Thousands of people flock to the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas, as there are very few places in the world open to the public where rockhounds can hunt for diamonds and keep what they find.
In this article, we’ve got our top tips to help you make your trip to the Crater of Diamonds State Park a success.
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Crater of Diamonds Tips
The information provided in this article by YesDirt.com is for informational purposes and is subject to change. Laws are updated. Accessibility guidelines and restrictions change. Be sure to confirm the land status and collection rules before you travel to an unfamiliar location or collect any material.
Bring Your Own Hand Tools And Collection Containers
The Crater of Diamonds State Park makes tools available to rent, such as shovels, carts, sifting screens and more.
We are pretty thrifty, and unless we are in the middle of a trip where some hand tools and a bucket can’t fit in the car, we’ll just bring them.
If a full size spade fits in the car, bring it. Otherwise, bring hand shovels, and hand rakes. A sifting screen will come in handy too.
If you are planning on doing multiple days of collecting in the park, you could always purchase these items in the nearby town of Murfreesboro,
Much of what you are looking for us going to be pretty small. I mean, seriously, you won’t be finding a softball sized diamond here.
Instead, you’ll be sifting through dirt and small pebbles smaller than the size of your fingernail, pulling aside anything that looks shiny or pretty.
This is a good site to have several smaller containers available, so you can keep your small finds organized and not worry about losing them back into the dirt or into the pockets of your jeans.
Spice containers like these from Amazon are a sturdy, light, and affordable option. They will keep your precious stones safe while you travel, then can also be used to display your finds when you return home.
Some people like to use altoid folding cans, while others like sandwich size plastic bags.
Either way, we like using clear containers so that you can see what is in there (and how much) without having to open things up and risk losing your small pieces.
Bring Something To Carry Your Stuff Around (We Like Wheels)
The Crater of Diamonds search area is 37 acres.
You might end up really far from your car, and you also might find non-diamond stones or minerals that you want to take home with you.
If you have a pack with food, water, tools, sunscreen, and THEN you have a reasonable amount of material that you want to work on after lunch or take home with you, it will be a major challenge to get this back to the vehicle.
(The state park website says you can bring home up to 5 gallons!)
A good pack might be the best bet in addition to your tools/bucket.
The digging area is plowed with a bulldozer pulling a bedding plow about once a month, assuming the weather allows, to break apart the dirt, fill in holes, and unearth new material to hunt through.
This means that any cart you bring with you should have decent wheels and be easy to pull, because areas will be soft and uneven.
We have this Gorilla Cart, and appreciate it’s 600-pound capacity and the “dump” function.
It’s also handy to use to haul tired kids (or moms) back to the car.
Find Out When The Field Will Be Plowed
Hundreds (if not thousands) of people go to Crater if Diamonds during the travel season.
But ultimately, while weather can make your search more productive (rain can clean up specimens or help uncover them), one of the best times to visit Crater of Diamonds is right after the field has been plowed.
It might not matter whether you are there during the busy season or low if the field hasn’t been plowed recently, as it is often not plowed much during the winter months because of weather.
This means that most of the easy surface finds will be long picked up.
Sometimes people will walk right behind the plow as it works its way around looking for something special (agates, jaspers, quartz, in addition to what might be diamonds).
The state park website used to update the site with the “most recent plow” but the site looks to be more than a year out of date. It might be worth trying to call ahead to see what information you can gather.
And if you can’t get information about the plow, try and time your trip during or after some rain.
The bad weather should deter the fair weather collectors, as well as uncover some beauties for you to find.
Look For Diamonds On The Surface And Between The Plowed Mounds
In general, diamonds are found on the surface of the plowed mounds, or they are found in the dirt in between the plowed mounds, down low.
That’s not to say that you couldn’t find a diamond by digging to the tops of the mounds.
But when the land is plowed, the diamonds on the sides of the mounds tend to roll or get pushed down into the in between areas.
As a result, digging into the mounds themselves tends to be a lot of work without much return.
Get There Early
People often come to the Crater of Diamonds knowing exactly where they want to dig.
Sometimes they will even come to visit the evening before and do their walking around so that they can arrive in the morning and get the spot they think is the best.
Getting there early will allow you to have more choice over where you dig for diamonds.
It will also give you a chance to get a spot in the parking lot.
The park closes at 4:00pm, so if you get there late in the day, you might get the worst of the heat and have to leave before you end up finding anything.
And remember, Crater of Diamonds has a campground with close to 50 sites, so there will definitely be some early birds rolling out of bed to get to work as soon as the search area opens up.
Bring Extra Water
In the warmer months, it can get pretty hot in Arkansas.
We see people picnicking on the grounds, which is awesome. Bringing food with you is a great idea.
But between extra water (cold water) or snacks, we think the extra cold drinking water is a must-have.
Use a water cooler and drop in some ice, or risk having to end your visit early because you got overheated.
The extra water might also be helpful in the form of a spray bottle, which you can use as you are digging to clean off specimens and work to identify them before coming in to use the wet sifting stations.
The sun can be brutal in the search areas depending on the time of year.
If you are vulnerable at all to sun or heat, know that you are allowed to bring in umbrellas or canopies to help keep the sun off you while you work or rest.
Bring Boots/Change Of Clothes
If you are planning on wet sifting, the likelihood of splashing yourself is really high.
You will definitely splash water over the side of the tank onto your shoes.
On a hot day, we don’t particularly mind getting clothes wet or muddy.
But wet or muddy shoes is another matter entirely, especially if they are your only pair for the trip.
On second thought, a change of clothes would be a good idea as well.
Take Material Home With You
After a long morning, afternoon, or day of sifting, you might be tired, tired, tired of dirt.
Maybe you didn’t find anything.
The park reports that over half of the diamonds that are registered with the park were discovered in material that was carted away to be reviewed later.
At home or back at your campsite, you have the luxury of sifting at your leisure, and can look more closely at the stones.
You could do a little bit at a time, or use it as an activity for your kids/grandkids. (“Let’s help grandma look for diamonds!”)
The material might be worthless.
It might just be random rocks and dirt.
But it’s free, and why not?
As noted above, you can take home up to five gallons of material. You cannot take unsifted dirt, but you can take sifted gravel.
Bring a bucket with a lid so you can keep the rocks where they belong, in case the bucket falls over or gets knocked over.
Take Time To Learn What To Look For
Most people who are new to hunting for diamonds do not know what to look for.
They imagine finished jewelry.
This is not the case for raw diamonds.
The diamonds in the park could be yellow, or even brown.
Before you run out into the field (if you’ve never been there before), take the time to grab any literature you can find in the visitor center, especially if there are any example pictures in the materials for you to compare.
Also take note of the materials that might trick you, such as quartz, calcite, and mica.
Remember, that diamond is the hardest of the materials, while quartz, calcite, and mica are not as hard.
Consider a set of “hardness picks” to help you identify your stone (meaning if you scratch the material with the picks, not a diamond).
If in the end, you have a pile or potential stones that might be diamonds, you can run your specimens by the staff at the visitor center who should be able to help you identify what you’ve collected.
Also remember that other valuable stones can be found here, such as amethyst, so keep your eyes peeled for anything colorful, not just yellow, white, or diamond like.
Check The Water Park Before You Tell The Kids
The Crater of Diamonds State Park has a water park (not huge, but still refreshing). However, before you tell the kids about it, you should check a few things.
First, is the pool going to be open the day you are visiting (as it is not open every day of the week)?
Second, will your schedule allow you to visit it?
The pool area closes at 5pm.
If you push your diamond hunt until the close of the search area (at 4pm), you definitely won’t have enough time to get over to the water park and make the admission fee worth it.
And you’ll have grumpy kids.
A better option especially if you have older kids who are not as enthusiastic about diamond hunting could be to let them splash around for the afternoon while you hunt for precious gems.
Or hunt around in the morning and then head as a family to the water park for the afternoon.
Planning a trip to Arkansas to rockhound?
Check out our Arkansas rockhounding page for other locations that you won’t want to miss.