The Crater of Diamonds State Park is the entire reason we came to Arkansas. I had found out about this place while looking up gemstones. It is the only place in the United States where you can take home any diamonds you find. Admission is $10 per person.
According to the surprisingly well-informed college students (mostly women) who (wo)man the stations, about two diamonds are found a day. Of course, some of them are a fraction of a carat, they are so small.
There are three ways to search for diamonds: scanning the surface, digging a big hole, and with pans like those used for gold panning. According to the Internet, scanning the surface is the best way to search for diamonds so we didn’t rent any equipment like buckets or wheelbarrows.
It is best to search for diamonds after a big rain. It was supposed to have rained the night before but it didn’t. We went anyway to try our luck.
The crater is huge. We weren’t sure where to start looking so we ended up just picking a spot. I didn’t expect to find a diamond but my mom was determined. She picked up just about every rock and declared it was diamond. I had to show her pictures of raw diamonds on my phone midway through the day. She dumped most of the rocks back.
Interestingly enough, diamonds are not the only rocks to be found there. There is jasper, quartz, agate, amethyst, garnet, calcite, and so many more. It makes trying to find specific rocks very difficult because there are just so many.
I had a pop-top pill bottle that we used to store our rocks. When it was full, we went to the identification stand. I had expected an older man with glasses, but it was a young woman. She knew what she was doing, too. She quickly identified the rocks. They were mostly jasper. I swear, it should have been called Crater of Jasper with how much jasper we found.
We went back out but with less vigor. We met a woman who had been there for THREE WEEKS and hadn’t found anything yet. I decided it was okay if we didn’t find a diamond.
We went to a muddy spot on the edge of the crater. That’s where I sunk in up to my knees.
Since I was already filthy, I laid down in the dirt and examined a tiny dried-up water channel. I moved minuscule stones to one side. Then I saw it. A white, see-thru rock, no bigger than a pin head. I had found a diamond.
I calmly called my mother over and we carefully walked our treasure over to the rock identifier, who looked at it closely, then promptly crushed it with her fingernail. It was calcite. But for five minutes, I had a diamond.
After that, we were done. Arkansas had kind of been a disappointment and we were ready to go home. It was fun. If you have kids, I highly recommend Crater of Diamonds. What kid doesn’t love digging in the dirt and getting muddy?
P.S. There is more to Crater of Diamonds than the crater of diamonds. There are several trails and also a wildlife viewing area. DO NOT GO TO THE WILDLIFE VIEWING AREA. We decided to check it out and were immediately feasted upon by thousands and thousands of mosquitoes. The only defense was running back to our car screaming and locking the doors. I personally think the wildlife viewing area is an elaborate joke of bored rangers.