If diamonds are a girl’s best friend, then Crater of the Diamonds State Park in Arkansas is perfect for an outdoorsy girlfriends getaway with the family.
That is because the park is the only diamond-producing site in the world open to the public. Visitors the park get to mine for diamonds and other precious gems, like lamproite, amethyst, banded agate, jasper, peridot, garnet, quartz, calcite, barite, and hematite. It’s finders-keepers here, too, regardless of the market value of your find.
Most gems are small finds, but there have been the occasional big ticket finds of 5 carats or more.
Nearest major city: Murfreesboro, Arkansas (5 miles southwest)
Famous for: World’s only diamond mine open to the public.
Admission: $7/adults; $4 children ages 6-12; Free under 6. Diamond sifting tools may be brought in or rented at the park for an additional fee.
Families with children will like: Sifting for the diamonds and other precious gems. The park doesn’t allow motorized equipment, so the tools like sifting boxes are appropriate for kids of all ages.
Younger children will also enjoy the mining-themed aquatic playground (essentially a big pool with kid-sized waterslides) on a hot day. There is an additional fee for this of $5.50/adult; $3.75/children.
Other travelers will like: Fishing on the Missouri River (license required); hiking the park trails
Camping information: The park offers 59 campsites with water and electric hookups. There are also hot showers, a laundromat and dump station. The campground is closed for renovations until mid-summer 2010. Once reopened, rates are $18/night.
Other nearby lodging: There are no additional lodging facilities within the park, but nearby Murfreesboro has a variety of accommodations available from campgrounds to motels/hotels.
Best months to visit for weather: Late spring and early fall are best.
Best months to visit to avoid crowds: Peak tourist seasons are the summer months. Spring and fall are probably the best if looking to avoid crowds.
- Flying – Little Rock, Arkansas, is the closest major airport
More info can be found at: Arkansas State Parks official website
[Photo courtesy of Arkansas State Parks]