LITTLE ROCK — The very popular diamond search field at Crater of Diamonds State Park opened today with some restrictions, announced Stacy Hurst, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism.
"We are pleased to be able to welcome people back to search for diamonds at the Crater of Diamonds just in time for the Memorial Day weekend," said Hurst. "It is one of the most popular destinations in our system of state parks, and we have had many questions from people who are anxious to again have the opportunity to find and keep their very own gem."
"We are the only diamond mine in the world where you get to keep what you find and the lifetime memories our visitors make searching for a diamond are important to us," said Arkansas State Parks Director Grady Spann. "In order to reopen at this time, however, we will be enforcing some restrictions during this public health emergency to keep everyone safe."
One of the ways to manage the number of people in the search field will be to limit admission to 500 people per day. Tickets can be purchased online at CraterofDiamondsStatePark.com and those ticket holders will have more direct access to the mine area. Walk-up tickets can be purchased in the Visitor Center, where maximum occupancy will be limited to 15 persons. All 500 daily limit tickets will be available online, this may mean some days will be sold out and walk-up tickets will not be available.
The statewide health emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will require that the following rules be followed:
No diamond-mining tool rentals at this time. Guests are asked to bring their own tools as described at the Crater of Diamonds website, no electric or gas-powered digging tools are allowed.
Hand sanitizer will be available for guests in the Visitor Center.
Face coverings will be required for all persons present in the following park facilities:
Diamond Discovery Center
North & South Sluice Pavilions
All four Sun Shelters
Children under the age of 10 are not required to wear face coverings
To keep a safe distance in the search field, guests and associated groups will be asked to keep a 12-foot distance between other guests, unless they are wearing face coverings.
Diamond Mine hours: 7 days a week from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Visitor Center hours: 7 days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Walking trails, picnic areas and RV camping at the park will still be open to all visitors. The Diamond Springs Water Park will open at a date to be determined.
Quick Facts about Crater of Diamonds State Park
Diamonds come in all colors of the rainbow. The three most common colors found at Crater of Diamonds State Park are white, brown, and yellow, in that order.
In total, over 75,000 diamonds have been unearthed at the Crater of Diamonds since the first diamonds were discovered in 1906 by John Huddleston, a farmer who owned the land long before it became an Arkansas State Park in 1972.
The largest diamond ever discovered in the United States was unearthed here in 1924 during an early mining operation. Named the Uncle Sam, this white diamond with a pink cast weighed 40.23 carats. It was later cut into a 12.42-carat emerald shape and purchased by a private collector for $150,000 in 1971.
Another well-known diamond from the park is the Strawn-Wagner. Found in 1990 by Murfreesboro resident Shirley Strawn, this 3.03-carat white gem was cut into a round brilliant shape weighing 1.09 carats. It graded as ideal cut, D-colorless, and flawless and was set in a platinum and 24-carat gold ring. In 1998 the State of Arkansas purchased this diamond for $34,700 in donations and placed it on permanent display at the park visitor center.
Crater of Diamonds State Park is located on Arkansas Highway 301 in Murfreesboro. It is one of 52 state parks administered by Arkansas State Parks, a division of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism.