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Crater of Diamonds State Park Guide — Gem Hunting, Discovery Center, Water Park, and More

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Discover a one-of-a-kind experience at Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, Arkansas. This park offers a unique opportunity to learn about geology and even try your hand at prospecting for diamonds — after all, this is where the largest diamond ever found in the U.S. was discovered! But that’s not all. With activities such as camping, fishing, and wildlife watching, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

How To Get to Crater of Diamonds State Park

Where Is Crater of Diamonds State Park?

Crater of Diamonds State Park is in Murfreesboro, Arkansas. The park covers a 37-acre field that’s the eroded surface of a volcanic crater, and it’s known as a place where you can find precious gems close to the surface. It’s a little over 2 hours by car from Little Rock, Arkansas.

Crater of Diamonds State Park Opening Hours and Seasons

This park is open throughout the year except for New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. The park’s facilities, including the visitor center, gift shop, and Diamond Discovery Center, are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Diamond Search Area is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Diamond Springs Water Park is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, operating from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Entry to the park is free, but you must pay a fee to look for diamonds in the search area, though you’re allowed to keep any gemstones you find. The fee is $15 for anyone 13 and over and $7 for children 6 to 12. Children 5 and under can search for free.

Nearest Airports to Crater of Diamonds State Park

You can fly to several airports to get to this state park. Take a look at 2 popular destination airports for visitors flying into this part of Arkansas. 

Clinton National Airport Little Rock (LIT)

Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport is a relatively large airport in Little Rock. Although it is not as close to the park as others, it offers more flights and airlines. It takes about 2 hours to drive from the airport to the park. The airport offers nonstop flights to 13 major U.S. cities, including Dallas, Denver, Las Vegas, Miami, and St. Louis. Many well-known airlines, such as Allegiant, American, Delta, Southwest, and United, service this airport.

The airport has several car rental kiosks and customer service representatives who can help you arrange the final leg of your journey to the park.

Bottom Line:

With its convenient location and numerous flight options, Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport is a great choice for those planning a trip to the park.

Texarkana Airport (TXK)

Texarkana Airport is a regional airport in Texarkana, Arkansas, a convenient gateway for travelers planning to visit Crater of Diamonds State Park. It takes approximately an hour to get to the park from this airport. American is the only airline serving this airport, providing nonstop flights to/from Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW).

After arriving at Texarkana Airport, getting to the park is easy. Hertz and Avis-Budget Rent-A-Car operate booths here.

Driving to Crater of Diamonds State Park

If you’re coming from Little Rock, take Interstate 30 West and take exit 73 at Arkadelphia. Then head west on Arkansas Highway 51 for 6 miles and then follow Arkansas Highway 26 for 34 miles until you reach Murfreesboro. Once you get to downtown Murfreesboro, take Arkansas Highway 301 for 2 miles to reach the park. 

If you’re coming from Texarkana, take I-30 East and take exit 30 at Hope. Next, take Interstate 278 North to Nashville and then take Arkansas Highway 27 North to Murfreesboro. Once you reach downtown Murfreesboro, drive 2 miles southeast on Arkansas State Highway 301 until you arrive at the park entrance.

Train to Crater of Diamonds State Park

You can’t take a train directly to Crater of Diamonds State Park. However, Amtrak has a station in Hope, Arkansas, a nearby town that’s about 50 minutes by car from the park. You can use a ride-share service from the station to reach the park.

Bus to Crater of Diamonds State Park

There is no direct bus service to Crater of Diamonds State Park.

Getting Around Crater of Diamonds State Park

It’s important to note that the best and only way to get around the park is by parking your vehicle near the visitor center and exploring on foot. To enter the park, you need to purchase an admission ticket at the visitor center and then walk around to explore the various points of interest within the park boundaries.

Whether you’re an avid hiker or simply looking for a peaceful walk in nature, exploring on foot is an excellent way to experience all the park offers. Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes and get ready to discover the wonders of the state park.

What To See and Do in Crater of Diamonds State Park

The most popular activity in the park is diamond and gemstone digging, but there are also several other exciting places to explore and learn.

From discovery centers to water parks and everything in between, visitors can easily find something that piques their interest when they visit this park.

Diamond Discovery Center

Diamond Discovery Center
Image Credit: Arkansas State Parks

The Diamond Discovery Center is a fascinating and informative facility home to several exhibits that showcase the different types of methods to find gemstones and the various types of stones that can be found there. 

One of the most exciting features of the Diamond Discovery Center is the diamond hunters’ Hall of Fame. This exhibit pays tribute to the successful diamond prospectors who have made significant discoveries in the park over the years. The Hall of Fame showcases their achievements and gives visitors a glimpse into the fascinating world of diamond hunting.

Bottom Line:

Whether you’re a seasoned prospector or a first-time visitor, the Diamond Discovery Center is the perfect place to start your adventure in the park.

Diamond Springs Water Park

Diamond Springs Water Park
Image Credit: Arkansas State Parks

Diamond Springs Water Park is a unique and exciting mining-themed water playground within the park. The main attraction here is the wading pool, which spans over 4,000 square feet and is perfect for guests looking to cool off and have fun in the sun.

The pool has an array of exhilarating features, including shooting geysers, water sprays, waterspouts, cascading waterfalls, waterslides, and powerful water jets.

In addition to the pool, there’s a spacious deck area where you can relax and soak up the sun’s rays. Whether you’re looking to catch up on some reading, enjoy a refreshing beverage, or simply unwind and take in the beautiful surroundings, this deck is the perfect place to do it.

The water park is only open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, so be sure to plan your visit accordingly. This facility is intended for guests who are 42 inches or taller, so make sure everyone meets the height requirement before making your way to the park. A seperate admission fee is required.

Fishing

Fishing is a popular activity, particularly along the banks of the Little Missouri River. The best time to enjoy this activity is in late summer when the water is cool. You can catch trout, largemouth bass, bream, and catfish.

A fishing license is required to fish here, so be sure to come prepared with one. The river is restocked with trout every year from November to March, but fishing is allowed year-round. Be sure to read up on regulations, daily catch limits, and so on before fishing — the 2024 Arkansas Fishing Guidebook is a useful resource.

Hiking Trails

This state park offers several picturesque hiking trails that are perfect for nature enthusiasts. All the trails are graded as easy, and their length varies from less than half a mile to just over a mile. 

The 3 trails here are the Little Missouri River Trail, Prospector Trail, and Wildlife Observation Blind Trail. Each trail offers its unique charm, scenic beauty, and an opportunity to explore and appreciate the stunning flora and fauna of the park. 

Hikers can experience the thrill of spotting various wildlife, including birds, deer, and other small mammals. A hike in this park is an excellent way to unwind and reconnect with nature while enjoying a refreshing workout.

Mining

Crater of Diamonds State Park Mining
Image Credit: Arkansas State Parks

Crater of Diamonds State Park has a 37.5-acre soil field containing diamonds and other precious gems. This field is plowed regularly to assist prospectors in their quest for treasure. Over 40 types of rocks and minerals are found here, including amethysts, jaspers, garnets, quartz, peridots, and diamonds.

Once you find stones you like, you can identify them at the Diamond Discovery Center. If you run out of time, you can take up to 5 gallons of sifted gravel home with you, and many visitors have found diamonds and other gems in their sifted gravel. In 2015, a visitor from Colorado found a flawless 8.52-carat diamond in the park that was later valued at $1 million.

Besides the entry fee to the search area, you’re responsible for bringing your town tools. The park also rents tools out for a fee.

Nature Programs

The park offers various nature programs throughout the year, guided by park interpreters from Memorial Day through Labor Day. These programs include history walks and diamond mining demonstrations and are held day and evening.

Additionally, several programs are available, including Crater Minors, which offers children between 6 and 12 a chance to learn about gemology and geology and have fun through hands-on activities.

Visitor Center

This facility allows visitors to learn about the area’s geology and history. You can view real, uncut diamonds and interact with a variety of exhibits. This is a great starting point to begin prospecting, as there are demonstrations on searching for them. Interpretive programs are also held here. Additionally, there is a gift shop available from where you can purchase souvenirs to take home.

Best Times To Visit Crater of Diamonds State Park

No matter when you plan to visit, you can be assured of an unforgettable experience. However, certain times of the year are better than others, especially if you’re interested in attending a particular event or participating in an activity.

Best Time To Visit Crater of Diamonds State Park for Ideal Weather

Crater of Diamonds State Park for Ideal Weather
Image Credit: Arkansas State Parks

June is an excellent month to plan a visit, as the weather is perfect for outdoor activities. The temperature during this month ranges from the mid-60s at night to the upper 80s in the day, allowing for comfortable exploration of the area. Be sure to wear a wide-brimmed hat if you’re out in the diamond field!

Although there are fewer chances of rainfall than in some other months, it is still possible, so it’s always a good idea to be prepared. You can also enjoy the water park during this time.

Best Time To Visit Crater of Diamonds State Park To Avoid the Crowds

October is an excellent month to plan a visit to this park, especially if you prefer a less crowded experience. During this month, there is a decrease in visitors, which gives you ample opportunity to explore and search for gems at your own pace. Furthermore, the comfortable fall temperatures (mid-70s on average during the day) make it an ideal time to enjoy outdoor activities.

Best Time To Visit Crater of Diamonds State Park for Wildlife

To catch a glimpse of the wildlife inhabiting this park, visiting in November is recommended. This is an ideal time to spot deer, as it coincides with the hunting season, and deer tend to seek shelter in the park, a protected area. Apart from deer, you may spot armadillos and various species of birds.

Cheapest Time To Visit Crater of Diamonds State Park

The entrance fee to the diamond field remains the same throughout the year. If you’re looking to cut down on your travel expenses, planning a visit to the park from mid- to late September is best. During this period, the cost of flights and accommodations in nearby cities is relatively low, and you could potentially save several hundred dollars overall.

Annual Events in Crater of Diamonds State Park

There are no regular events that happen annually at this park. However, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the park organizes various programs at the visitor center. These programs are focused on mining demonstrations and geology talks.

Where To Stay in Crater of Diamonds State Park

One of the most important things to consider when planning a trip is where you will stay. Luckily, there are many different options available for accommodations when visiting this park.

Inside the Park

Crater of Diamonds State Park Camping
Image Credit: Arkansas State Parks

Camping is the only way to stay overnight inside Crater of Diamonds State Park. The park has a tree-shaded campground with 47 campsites and 5 RV sites. The campground provides water, sewage, electric hookups, and 2 modern bathhouses with hot showers. Camping here is a great way to experience everything the park offers.

Towns Near the Park

There are many towns a short drive from the park that can serve as an ideal base camp during your visit. Whether you prefer a peaceful town or a lively city, there’s a perfect option for you nearby.

Hot Springs, Arkansas

Hot Springs boasts a plethora of lodging, dining, and recreation. An hour and 15 minutes from the park, it’s a popular destination for visitors exploring the area.

Whether you’re in the mood for a luxurious resort or a cozy bed and breakfast, Hot Springs has a range of accommodations for most budgets. Foodies can explore a diverse range of restaurants, offering everything from classic Southern cuisine to international cuisines. There are plenty of opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to hike, bike, fish, and enjoy other recreational activities in and around the city.

Bottom Line:

Hot Springs is a great place for a home away from home when visiting Crater of Diamonds State Park.

Murfreesboro, Arkansas

Crater of Diamonds State Park is in Murfreesboro, which means that there are no closer towns to stay in nearby. However, Murfreesboro has a wide range of accommodations, dining, and recreation.

Most of the lodging in the town is cabins and locally-run bed and breakfasts, but there are also inns and small hotels. The restaurants in the town cater to many tastes, from pizza parlors and old-fashioned diners to Mexican restaurants.

When it comes to recreation, Murfreesboro is perfect for exploring nearby parks and lakes, but there are also amusement parks and discovery centers, museums, and antique shops.

Despite being a small town, Murfreesboro has plenty of things to do and amenities to take advantage of.

Where To Eat in Crater of Diamonds State Park

You don’t have to worry about finding something to eat when visiting this park. There is plenty of dining both within the park and nearby.

Kimberlite Cafe Restaurant

Kimberlite Cafe Restaurant is inside the park and open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., serving visitors from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend. The restaurant’s menu features chicken strip dinners, pulled pork sandwiches, club sandwiches, kids’ meals, salads, and desserts.

Telinga’s Mexican Restaurant

Telinga’s Mexican Restaurant is the highest-rated eatery in Murfreesboro and is just a 4-minute drive from the park. This restaurant is known for exceptional customer service.

Its menu features favorites such as tacos, burritos, fresh chips, salsa, and guacamole. Customers recommend the street tacos, fajitas, and carnitas.

Crater of Diamonds State Park Facts

Replica of Old Ozark Mine Building
Image Credit: Erin via Flickr (license)

1. A New State Park Established

Crater of Diamonds State Park was established in 1972. 

2. First Diamonds Found

Arkansas farmer John Huddleston found 2 diamonds on his farm in 1906. This sparked the diamond mining rush, and today, the site of his discovery is the Crater of Diamonds State Park.

3. Record-Winning Find

The largest diamond ever discovered in the U.S., now known as the Uncle Sam Diamond, was unearthed in this park in 1924. The diamond weighed 40.23 carats. It’s now in the Smithsonian.

4. Glimpses of the Past

Within the park, visitors can explore several historic structures, such as washing pavilions, old mining equipment, and sun shelters.

5. Diamond Discoveries

It has been reported that more than 35,000 diamonds have been found at Crater of Diamonds State Park since 1972.

Final Thoughts

Crater of Diamonds State Park is an amazing destination that offers a wide range of activities to suit everyone’s interests. From hiking and camping to fishing and diamond and gemstone mining, there is always something to do here. Plan your trip to this beautiful park in Arkansas and discover why it attracts so many visitors every year.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to visit Crater of Diamonds State Park?

It’s free to get into the park, but an adult ticket for entering Crater of Diamonds State Park’s diamond field costs $15, while children between the ages of 6 and 12 are charged $7. Visitors under the age of 6 can enter the diamond field for free. It’s important to note that other facilities within the park, such as the water park, have separate fees.

Are pets allowed at Crater of Diamonds State Park?

Pets are allowed in all facilities except the gift shop and waterpark. They must be leashed, and owners are responsible for cleaning up after their pets.

Do I have to turn in the gemstones that I find at Crater of Diamonds State Park?

Any stone you find when mining at Crater of Diamonds State Park is yours to keep. You do not have to report findings to the park.

Can I rent tools for mining at Crater of Diamonds State Park?

Visitors to this state park can rent a variety of tools and supplies by paying a rental fee starting at $5 per item. There’s a required deposit of $20.

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About Amar Hussain

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications including Forbes, the Huffington Post, and more.

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