Rockhounding Arkansas, what a great idea!
Arkansas provides a bounty of minerals, gems, and rocks for any enthusiast rock collectors to hunt for and experience.
As a result, this state is one of the more quietly popular locations for rockhounding in the United States.
The article that follows is a list of some of the more popular locations in Arkansas for folks who love rocks to visit.
Where To Go Rockhounding In Arkansas
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.
Crater of Diamonds State Park
Crater of Diamonds is the only public place in the world where you can hunt for real diamonds within their original volcanic state.
Not surprisingly, (and for good reason), a lot of people visit Murfreesboro in Arkansas.
Rockhounders can search for diamonds, gemstones, rocks, and other minerals within a 37-acre field.
You can rent digging tools from the park or bring your equipment, but motor-driven or battery-operated mining equipment is not allowed.
At the park’s visitor center, you will get a chance to view uncut and real diamonds. You will also interact will exhibit that illustrate the unique geology and history of the site.
Most importantly, you will learn more about minerals and rocks found at the park and how you can search for diamonds using different techniques.
You might find a diamonds in various colors, including yellow, brown, and white. You will find other rocks and minerals, including quartz, agate, jasper, garnet, and amethyst, apart from diamonds.
The staff at the park offers complimentary mineral and rock identification mechanisms and diamond mining demonstrations.
Since the Crater of Diamonds became a state park in 1972, visitors have found more than 33,100 diamonds
. The notable diamonds you will see at the park include the 8.52-carat Esperanza, 15.33-carat star of Arkansas, 16.37-cart Amarillo Starlight, and 40.23-carat Uncle same, which is the biggest diamond discovered in the United States.
You can hunt for minerals in three ways including:
- Surface searching– In this case, you will walk up and down plowed rows within a 38-acre field to collect the gems that you can manage to see. This method is the best, especially during rainy seasons.
- Actual digging: You can request the site authorities to offer you equipment that you will use to dig approximately six inches deep in search of minerals.
- Digging deep holes: This method suits experienced miners. After digging deep holes, you will sort out the minerals within the dirt.
Since several people visit the park every day, the staff limits rockhounders to 1500 per day, and you can book your ticket online. Children below six years can enter the park for free; those between 6 and 12 years are paid $6 while adults $10.
Groups that include at least 20 people and provide advance notice may be able to get a discount.
Crater of Diamonds State Park is located at Route 1, Murfreesboro, AR 71958.
You might also consider other state parks such as: Hampson Museum State Park, Parkin Archaeological State Park, Toltec Mounds Archaeological State Park, the Arkansas Natural Resources Museum, the Bauxite Museum, the Mid-America Museum, the Arkansas Geological Survey, and many more.
Ouachita National Forest
As a result of increased interest in the outdoors as a result of the pandemic, mining and rockhounding activities for quartz crystals have increased dramatically within the Ouachita National Forest.
The principal mineral people hunt for in the Ouachita is quartz.
But you can also find several minerals in Ouachita National Forest including wavellite, Vadium, Turquoise, Tripoli, slate, Novaculite, Copper, Coal, Barite, and Asphaltite.
You can hunt for minerals and materials on your own throughout the National Forest land.
Or you can visit one of the National Forest established quartz collecting locations.
At this time, the only open official National Forest crystal collecting area is called Crystal Vista. Crystal Vista is situated at Womble Ranger District, a few miles from Mount Ida. This used to be an active mine, and has been visited often. For these reasons, it can be tough to find good pieces there, though it is not impossible.
Other rock hunting areas include:
- Around lake Catherine- Fluorite
- N of Lake Catherine- Columbium ore and Uranium ore
- The road between Avant and Mount Tabor- Spherules, Wavellite
- Rock ridges outside the national park- Quartz Crystals and rock crystals.
There are also some private mining areas in the Ouachita National Forest where you can pay a fee to enter and dig for cool specimens.
Fee Pay Crystal Mines
Gee and Dee Quartz Crystal Mine
(Update: The Gee and Dee Quartz Crystal Mine is now closed, without any indication that it will again be open for visitors)
Gee and Dee Quartz Crystal Mine is one of the locations that you can visit for rock hunting on the Northern side of Mount Ida (aka the Quartz Capital of the World).
In particular, the site is located at 4764 Highway 27, AR. Unlike other mineral hunting sites, you will be allowed to dig within the mine walls at this site compared to sites that will enable you to dig at the tailings. It is a family-operated business that most rockhounder have ranked as the best.
Once you arrive at the site, you will be greeted by Dee’s family, the mine owners. The couple will guide you on the best-digging sites and also spend the day with you. The fee charged for digging and other services is approximately $20 per person.
If you wish to visit the place, you can drive through Highway 27 Northern side of Mount Ida. After that, you will drive approximately 11.5 miles, and you will see a greenhouse with a signpost and mineral crystals.
The best time to visit this site is during rainless and clear days. In particular, you can visit Mount Ida from early May to July and early August to October.
Arrowhead Crystal Mine
Arrowhead Crystal Mine is a privately-owned mine located a few miles from the city of Mount Ida. The mine has won numerous award-winning crystal specimens. The notable crystals at the site include Blue Phantom, clear point crystals, and hued crystals.
At Arrowhead Crystal Mine, people above nine years old are charged a standard fee of $20 while children below nine years are allowed to dig for free provided they are accompanied by adults who pay the standard fee.
Apart from the base fee, the firm offers digging packages starting at $100 depending on the activities that you may wish to do.
The mine does not rent mineral digging tools, and you are encouraged to carry your own before you visit the site. The tools you might need include:
- Safety glasses.
- Rock picks.
- Small garden tools.
- Two or three-inch wide chisels that have hand guards.
- A three-pound hand mallet.
- Long crowbars.
- A flathead screwdriver.
The crystal mine is open throughout the year, and there is a road sign that will inform you if it is closed or open.
There are numerous crystals at this site, although most of them range between small to medium size. The Arrowhead Crystal does not provide specific operating hours. Therefore, you should call the owners in advance for visit hours and pricing. The mine is an approximately 10-minutes drive from Mount Ida at Owley road.
Note: we’ve heard that the experience at Arrowhead can be inconsistent. Some people have a great time, while others report that they did not. Keep this in mind as you make your plans and be prepared for anything.
Sweet Surrender Quartz Crystal Mine
(Update: The Sweet Surrender Quartz Crystal Mine is temporarily closed to the public, check their website to see if and when they will resume operations)
Sweet Surrender Quartz crystal mine is another commercial mine in the North of Mount Ida. At this mine, you will be allowed to carry some quartz to mark your experience.
The area is primitive since it does not have services or facilities. Therefore, you should wear suitable clothing and carry your bucket, containers, tools, food, and drinks. The digging tools you can carry include hand garden tools, an old screwdriver, and a rock hammer.
Before you visit the site, you should inform the site owners to schedule your visit. Once you arrive at the time, you will be informed about the safest places you can hunt for minerals. Normally the site is open starting from 9 am to 4 pm. You can visit the site any time that you wish. The digging fee includes;
- Children below nine years of age enter free with the guidance of an adult
- Children between 10 and 14 years of age pay $10
- Adults pay a digging fee of $25.
When you arrive at the site, ensure that you buy your ticket that indicates your tour schedule. The Tour includes a short video of the history of the mines, guided by their museum-quality mineral specimens.
You will ride the military vehicle of the site contractors through the public digging sites, the areas they sort, clean, and store mineral crystals discovered by their commercial miners.
Wegner Crystal Mines
The Wegner Crystal Mines are located at the alluring Western side of Arkansas in the Ouachita Mountains. The site has various gemstones, making it the best for an individual or group interested in collecting different minerals.
The most popular activity you can do at this mine is collecting your crystals in the 40-acre crystal forest. You can also search for other minerals at this site, including diamonds, topaz, rubies, and quartz crystals.
You can use the following five options when searching for minerals at this site.
- Crystal forest line– Searching a 40-acre surface mine using a hand tool and your sight.
- Gemstone sluice– Hitting a sluicing trough so that you can sort a bucket of dirt to collect crystals, including amethysts, opals, topaz, tourmalines, and rubies.
- Tailings crystal area– Searching a mineral at a patch of dirt that the authorities have collected from the mines.
- The Phantom crystal mine– Digging at the Phantom Mine so that you can search for rare crystals trapped insider other crystals known as Phantoms.
- Diamond collecting– In this experience, you will search for a bag of dirt where you are guaranteed to find at least a half-carat’s worth of diamonds. The bag of dirt is placed in an air-conditioned and comfortable indoor environment. (These diamonds are not Arkansas diamonds, by the way, they are from Africa).
What’s cool about this place is that you can tailor the experience to your interests and abilities. The fees and costs will depend on what sort of experience you are interested in.
Ron Coleman Mining
Ron Coleman Mining is one of the more well-known destinations for hands-on precious gem gifts and quartz crystal mining, and has been so for decades.
Thousands have visited this family-owned mine in Jessieville, Arkansas, to dig their treasures.
It is apparently so full of material that the owners assure visitors that they will manage to find their digging fees to be worth the high-quality quartz crystals they will find.
In addition, the site offers a tour, zip line, birthday parties, and an RV park for travel trailers, motor homes, and tent camping.
The mine also has offered discount deals in the past with local hotels/cabins, so check their website if you are interested before you book.
For these reasons, many people consider Ron Coleman Mining as the best rockhounding Arkansas site.
The mine is open every day from 8 am to 5 pm.
The prices for collecting minerals include:
- Children 6 years of age- Free
- Children between 7 and 15 years- $5.
- Seniors above 55 years of age- $20
- Adults between 16 and 54 years of age- $25.
Some other options include: Twin Creek Crystal Mine, Board Camp Crystal Mine, Fiddler’s Ridge, Miller Mountain, and Fischer Mountain Rockhounding Area.
Montgomery County Quarry
The area is also known as Mauldin, is located approximately 2.5 miles to the Northwest part of Mount Ida.
When the quarry was operational during the 1980s and 1990s, rock collectors managed to recover spectacular yellow-green to apple-green wavellite.
At this site, you can also find the phosphate mineral called planerite. Not only that, you can collect yellow to colorless crystals of micro mount wavellite.
Whether or not you can lawfully collect here is debatable. Some information we’ve found on the quarry says that you can, while others say that you can get away with it if you don’t run into anyone. Do your own research before you visit.
The site is located on Ouachita National Forest Land, but has not been designated as an official rockhounding site.
Blanchard Springs Caverns
While this isn’t a place to dig for minerals or gems, rockhounds will still love it.
This site is located at Stone county, about 2 miles from Highway 14 at the Ozark National Forest.
It is one of the most carefully developed and spectacular caves that you can visit in the US.
You will enter a living cave where you will see glistening formations of flowstones, columns, stalagmites, and stalactites that are still transforming. The crystalline formations occur due to the minerals and rocks deposited by dripping water.
Although the weather at the Blanchard Springs Caverns is relatively constant, with an average temperature of 58 °F and relative humidity of 100%, the best time you can visit for rock hunting is during summer.
All the visitor center facilities at this site as accessible. Since pave trails might be wet, you should wear non-slip shoes and a lightweight jacket to keep you warm.
The site is open throughout the year. Children under 16 years old pay $5, and adults pay $9.
Other cool caves you might consider are: Cod and Eden Caves, Cosmic Cavern, Hurricane River Cave, Mystic Cavern, Crystal Dome Cavern, Onyx Cave, War Eagle Cavern, and Old Spanish Treasure Cave.
Rock collecting sites change constantly. Specimens become depleted or property ownership changes. Law change.
Do your research before you go, and always have a backup plan for something fun to do in case you arrive to find that your destination has closed or has changed.
We’ve created an ultimate guide to gifts for rockhounds with helpful links directly to Amazon to make product evaluation and review easy!
Planning a trip to rockhound?
Check out our rockhounding page for other locations that you won’t want to miss, or check out some of our other state specific resources: