There’s nothing like a search for buried treasure, and at Crater Of Diamonds State Park you have a chance to search for one of the most valuable treasures of all: diamonds. Not polished and cut, but in their natural state, which makes them more challenging and fun to search for. (Diamonds, by the way, are pure carbon, and are not made from coal.)

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Crater Of Diamonds State Park, located near Murfreesboro, AR., is the world’s only diamond vein accessible to the public. It features 37.5 acres of gem-bearing soil, with a lode of minerals extending 7 miles deep. The area is plowed once a month or so to help the gems find their way to the surface and your pockets. With an average of more than one diamond per day uncovered here, and only a few million other prospectors to bump into, the odds of finding the next Hope Diamond are not bad. Well, at least not as bad as the odds of having an asteroid shower you with a winning lottery ticket.

You can rent or buy your equipment on the premises (if you don’t have any of your own prospecting gear from ’49 stuck in the attic somewhere) and spend a day digging and sifting, and almost certainly finding interesting minerals of some kind. There is a sifting trough filled with water under the shade of a pavilion. And after you carefully insert your findings into a plastic bag, you go back to fetch and haul more dirt to do it all over again. Repetitive? Yes. Tedious? Not at all. In fact there’s something quite exhilarating about it even if you don’t find a blessed thing. At the end of the day, you can take your catch to the resident gemologists who will identify everything you’ve found.

Okay, we’ll end the suspense and confess that we didn’t strike it rich. We just came back with a bag of jasper and quartz and a few other very common minerals. But it was fascinating and informative. And hey, there’s always always next time. And we got some great practice for the mud pie competition.