Crater of Diamonds

Where you can try your luck at the outdoor gambling hall

Krista Marson
Taking Off
Published in
6 min readApr 17, 2023


Prospectors at Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, AR. wikimedia commons

When I told Ryan that I wanted to go to Arkansas and dig for diamonds after reading an article about some kid that recently scooped up a sizable diamond at The Crater of Diamonds State Park, I remember his response being something along the lines of, “You want to go where and do what now?” He is used to my proposing random trip ideas, but suggesting a mining vacation sounded a tad bit out of left field even for me.

“It’ll be something different,” I told him.

“Why do you want to find a diamond for?” Ryan asked me, knowing full well my disdain for jewelry. We had just recently gotten engaged, and I took the ring off my finger after wearing it for two whole long miserable weeks because I found having a ring on my finger the most annoying thing in the world.

“I don’t necessarily want a diamond. I just want to find one,” I explained.

As usually was the case, my not making any sense was often what ended up making the most sense. Ryan was rendered unable to come up with any reasonable argument why we shouldn’t spend a holiday digging for something that we both knew full well that we wouldn’t find because we’re not the type of people that win so much as even a dollar off of a scratcher ticket.

“How easy is it to find diamonds in this marvelous place you want to drag me to?” he asked me.

“According to everything that I’ve been reading online, darn near impossible,” I didn’t lie. “It’s pretty much a give-in that we won’t find anything, but it will be at least fun to try.”

I wasn’t making the place sound all that worthwhile. However, my enthusiasm for wanting to go was evident, so it was obvious that digging for diamonds was going to happen in our near future whether Ryan was excited about prospecting or not. His only requirement was that I explain to him for a third time what exactly this mining park was all about.

I summarized what I read on the park’s website, detailing how The Crater of Diamonds State Park existed because there once was a volcano on the same spot about bazillion years ago. This extinct volcano had eroded into practically nothing, but evidence that it once existed was confirmed by its belching up diamonds due to a bad case of geological indigestion.

According to the website, diamonds quite simply littered the ground, and all one needed to do is move a little dirt out of the way and pick them up. The website made finding diamonds sound easy, but even reading a little bit into what tools were recommended (box screen, shovel, knee pads, …wagon!), it was obvious this park was going to be nothing short of a glorified outdoor gambling hall. There was no way in hell we were going to find anything that even looked remotely like a diamond buried somewhere in the folds of an extensively plowed hayfield, but, hey, we were game to try.

The park advertises itself as “fun for the whole family.” I couldn’t disagree with that advertisement because I seriously considered hiring a teenager to bring along with us on the trip. The small amount of research that I did on the internet revealed that teenagers were way better at finding diamonds than adults were. Adults probably go to the park feeling all stressed out over the actual need to find a diamond because doing so would mean that they could finally pay off their credit card bill, whereas kids find diamonds because it’s a game to them. If the park were interested in raking in any more cash, they would put teenagers on the list of items available to rent for the day, but they probably don’t offer kids for rent only because it is in their best interest to keep some diamonds in the ground for future scavenger hunters to find.

Since we wanted to emulate the masters, we went to the kid section at a dollar store to shop for our mining tools. Figuring that diamonds were teeny tiny things, it made sense that a couple of child-sized sand toolsets would be the appropriate equipment for the day. Ryan, however, had his doubts when he held up a puny shovel and wanted to know if he was supposed to take this mining venture seriously. I told him that, of course, he was; these were the tools of the trade. When we arrived at the park, we were equipped with plastic sand tool sets, garden hoes, and a couple of spaghetti strainers, ready to dig in. As far as I was concerned, we looked perfectly prepared to go mining, but the park ranger looked us over and asked us if we wanted to rent some actual people-sized shovels. “Ha, ha, ha, park ranger, dude,” I wanted to say to him. “I’ve done my research! Adults don’t find diamonds with shovels. Adults only find diamonds with luck!” Probably the only thing we really didn’t need was the sandcastle-making mold thingie that came with the sand play kit, but I insisted on taking it in with us just in case we got bored with mining and decided to spend our day making turtles out of the dirt instead.

The Crater of Diamonds State Park turned out to be nothing like what I expected, and I can’t claim I didn’t know what to expect. Basically, I knew that I was not expecting a train car ride deep into some hollowed-out mountain, as I knew in advance from reading the park’s website that the ‘minefield’ was going to be 900 acres of plowed up farmland, but I guess I failed to register just how much ground 900 acres actually covered. Neither of us knew where to begin our search for diamonds with our midget shovels once we stepped outside the visitor building. Before us was a daunting amount of dirt and them out there weren’t actual hills, but humongous dirt mounds that were being created by people that evidently spent a greater portion of their lives digging at that park. It was impossible not to notice that all over the fields were solitary figures digging themselves holes with the apparent intent of reaching China. It was pretty obvious who the real gamblers were. If this oversized field of dirt was a casino, the deep hole digger was the type of person that played three slot machines simultaneously.

“I thought that you said we didn’t need to dig that deep,” Ryan said as he valiantly held up his miniature scraping tool.

“Supposedly, we don’t,” I said. “Just ignore what those people are doing, and let’s go do our own thing.”

We knew full well that the park offered absolutely no guarantee that everyone who tried would find a diamond. However, should either of us have been lucky enough actually to find one, the thing to do, apparently, was give the diamond a name. Wikipedia provides a shortlist of sizable discoveries found at the park, and someone in 2006 gave their 4.21-carat canary yellow find the name, “Okie Dokie Diamond.” That name alone inspired me enough to want to find my own diamond just so that I could name it something stupid and make people research the internet about it. We both had our diamond names chosen in advance. Ryan was going to call his diamond “Shiny,” and mine was going to be “Lucky Wucky Ducky Diamond,” and it was probably our choice of lame diamond names that sealed our fates in not being able to find one.

Believe it or not, there’s diamonds out there! wikimedia commons

If the challenge were to try to find as many jasper rocks that looked almost like yellow diamonds, then both of us would have come home as victors. Even though neither of us found anything of value after sifting through rows and rows of crusted-up dirt mounds for about six hours straight, I would totally go back and hunt for diamonds again. I just asked Ryan if he would too, and he blurted out, “Oh, heck, ya, I totally would.” Yet, I might add, there has been no date circled on the calendar for our eventual return, and it will probably remain that way for the next several years until we completely forget all about that place and never speak of it again.

My newest quasi-travel memoir Time Traveled is available as e-book or paperback! Buy it either at Amazon or at most major retailers.