Diamonds Are a Traveler’s Best Friend: Gem Hunting in Arkansas

A child panning for gold and gems.

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Ready to add a sparkle to your Arkansas getaway?  Look no further than the thrilling world of diamond and gemstone hunting.  Perfect for solo adventurers or family fun, this one-of-a-kind outdoor activity promises to leave you with cherished memories and captivating keepsakes.  While striking it rich might be a long shot, the real treasure lies in the excitement of the hunt.

Here are some of the best glittering gemstone and diamond hotspots in Arkansas.

Wegner Crystal Mines

Wegner Crystal Mines in Mount Ida, Arkansas, was discovered by the Wegner family in 1978 and offers five exciting treasure-hunting experiences.

A weathered raw quartz crystal emerges from the ground.

First, you can mine for crystals at the Crystal Forest Mine, a 40-acre open-surface mine with quartz crystals ready to be discovered.  You can also unearth garden rocks, crystal clusters and more precious gems.  At the world-famous Phantom Mine, hunt for phantom quartz crystals – crystals with unique and ghost-like “phantom” formations within the stone.  These types of quartz come in a variety of colors that range from clear to smoky. You can also search for quartz crystals in an expansive dirt field at the Tailings Crystal Area, surrounded by the beauty of the Ouachita National Forest and towering pecan trees.  For the best results, digging for at least 1 to 2 hours in the field of dirt and crystals from the mine pits is recommended.  

If you’re not interested in heading out to the fields or the mine, you can experience the Gemstone Sluice.  Purchase a pail of gemstone-bearing material and screen it through a 100-foot sluice and screening box to search the contents of your bucket for garnets, sapphires, emeralds, topaz, and rubies.

Finally, if you prefer remaining cool indoors, you can experience diamond collecting by searching through a bag of diamond-bearing gravel at your own uniquely lit, custom-made table.  Each bag of diamonds contains at least ½ carat total and comes with a velvet pouch and magnification gem display box.

Crater of Diamonds State Park

Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, Arkansas, is one of the few places in the world you can hunt for diamonds at the original volcanic source.  This fantastic 37-acre plowed field is an eroded surface of an ancient volcano open to the public, where park patrons have found over 35,000 diamonds.  In addition to diamonds, you may also find other gemstones like amethyst, jasper, quartz, garnet, and various minerals and rocks.  While the chances of discovering a valuable gemstone may be slim, the thrill of the hunt and the possibility of unearthing a hidden treasure make gemstone hunting in Crater of Diamonds State Park an unforgettable experience.

After a day of treasure hunting, visitors can enjoy other park amenities, such as hiking trails, picnic areas, a water park, and a campground, making it a perfect destination for a fun and enriching family vacation.

Ron Coleman Mining

Ron Coleman Mining in Hot Springs, Arkansas, offers unlimited digging for quartz crystals.  This location is pet-friendly, and gear can be purchased on-site.  If you want a longer crystal hunting experience, an RV campground with 24 campsites is also available.  Additional activities at Ron Coleman Mining include a side-by-side zip line over the crystal mine and the Gallery of Museum Quality Minerals. You can take a short tour and see rare stones like fluorite, stilbite, and phantom calcite from around the globe.

Coleman Quartz Mine. Photo Courtesy of James St. John.

Don’t skip the Crystal Mine Tour, which lets you take a real-life, behind-the-scenes look at the gem mining operation.  You’ll ride in a military vehicle through the public digging areas to the commercial mine, where you will see the equipment used by the miners and the crystal veins.

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