When you're on the hunt for a one-of-a-kind adventure, you'll want to turn toward Arkansas' Crater of Diamonds State Park. It is a unique setting where guests can join in on the thrilling recreation of hunting for real diamonds. But the fun doesn't stop there. This place offers all sorts of other activities, including walking trails, interpretive programs, and a water park.
The campground is a welcoming destination for RVs and trailers of varying lengths, with spaces that can accommodate rigs up to 60 feet. You can expect to stay quite comfortable all year round with full hookups and a dump station on site. Guests will also find two bathhouses, a gift store, the Discovery Center, an on-site cafe, and much more.
It's a rock hound's paradise and one of the few places that still features a noticeable volcanic past. Beauty lies beneath the ground as well as above it, and few destinations share such a good example of this. Crater of Diamonds State Park is the ideal stop, a picture-perfect reminder of Arkansas' rough beauty. While many come for the gems, they soon find that once you dig on into Crater of Diamonds, you'll uncover so much more.
It's usually quite a drive to get here, no matter which direction you're coming from. Guests travel from far and wide to experience the unique qualities of this park. The state's capital, Little Rock, is around a two-hour drive, and although the park is far from big-city limits, there are a handful of state parks and national forests that surround Crater of Diamonds. Daisy State Park is just stone's throw away to the north, and if you continue north, you'll find Ouachita National Forest. DeGray Lake State Park is located about an hour to the northeast, and Historic Washington State Park is just 30 miles to the south. The main roads surrounding the park are all paved and should be easy to navigate, even for large rigs. The roads within the park are clean, level, and well-paved. Signage is easily read, and visitors typically have no trouble navigating to the main areas of the park.
Parking seems to be as effortless as driving through the park lands. Visitors planning to stay overnight can head right over to the main campground to park rigs, detach trailers, and set up camp. From here, it doesn't take much to find well-traveled trails and the ways to Crater of Diamond's most popular points of interest.
During the peak season, reservations are a must at the Crater of Diamonds Campground. This place is quite popular, not only with Arkansas residents but for outside visitors as well. The campground is tree-shaded, spacious, and comfortable. The grounds are mid-sized in capacity, with 47 campsites that offer full hookups. Most sites include tent pads, and all have a picnic table and fire ring. Crater of Diamonds State Park's campground also includes two modern bathhouses that feature hot showers. One of these shower facilities also includes an area for laundry. RVers will find a dump station on-site, and all guests can enjoy free Wi-Fi within the campground. Crater of Diamonds is a wonderful, family-friendly atmosphere that welcomes furry friends, as well. Staying on the grounds is a sure way to dig deeper into this state park's unique surroundings. Not only is the landscape something worth talking about, but the thrilling experience of excavating through the ground for gems or getting to spend a day at the water park are also reasons to have this park at the top of your list.
The main campground at Crater of Diamonds State Park generally will require reservations to secure a stay in your RV or camper. The only sites that remain walk-in are the five tent-camping spaces. The remaining sites are all designed to take on RVs and trailers. If you're visiting the park outside of peak seasons, you may be able to squeak in a same-day reservation, but don't count on that if you're just winging it.
If Crater of Diamonds State Park's campground is full, or if you simply enjoy the finer things in life, there are endless opportunities for RV camping near the park. Luckily, you don't have to worry about wasting time with a long back-and-forth trip. The nearby town of Murfreesboro has all sorts of places to stay, including places to park your RV or trailer - and all within minutes of the park. Many offer top-notch amenities like full hookups, Wi-Fi, flush toilets, and hot showers. If you prefer state park camping, you won't have to journey far to find a place to set up camp for the night. Daisy State Park is just 30 minutes north, and DeGray Lake State Park is an hour to the northeast. Both parks offer RV-friendly campsites.
All year long, both the park's Visitor Center and Gift Shop remain open alongside the campgrounds. While peak seasons may come along with summer months, the park never really slows. The Visitor Center has fantastic interactive exhibits and enables guests to learn about the diamonds, as well as other minerals within the park's diamond site. Next, the Gift Shop is another stop visitors will want to dig into while at Crater of Diamonds. A wide selection of items can be found here, as well as some drinks, light snacks, bagged ice, and firewood bundles.
Pack the tackle box and the fishing poles along in the motorhome, because diamonds aren't the only thing you can hunt at this state park. The lure of the Little Missouri River may just snag you a few bites. Bank fishing is a popular sport here for locals and visitors alike, so long as a fishing license is acquired. Late summer, when the crowds are dwindling out, you may get in some of your best fishing yet. Largemouth bass, trout, bream, and catfish are common catches in these waters. Directions for getting to the river in the most efficient way possible will be found at the Visitor Center, and there is a public boat ramp that sits right across from the park if you prefer fishing from your boat.
During your stay, be sure to get out of the pop-up and stretch your legs walking along two of the park's beloved trails. Both trails are easy and just a tad over one mile in length; that means you'll want to anticipate setting aside about an hour for either trail. The Little Missouri River Trail winds through the wooded landscape, with an entrance right from the park's campground. The level terrain is mostly paved and is the longest wheelchair accessible trail available in southwest Arkansas. The second trail, Prospectors Trail, is another easily traveled trek that provides an intimate view of the park's unique and stunning geological features. An entry fee is required for this one, as it leads to the diamond search area.
When the grounds aren't as busy and bustling, visitors have even more opportunity to see the area's true locals. A parking lot rests just inside the park's entrance for day-use visitation and is large enough to park the rig. The lot is adjacent to the park's blind walkway. The gravel walkway is set among a secluded woodland, and it leads its guests through to a wildlife observation blind. It's the perfect vantage point to get a good shot of some of Arkansas' wildlife in their natural setting. Amateur and professional photographers alike are welcome to use the observation blind to get up close and personal to their wild subjects.
While the trail loops may not be very long here, with an average of only one mile (one way), they make for a nice, leisurely bike ride. The off seasons are easiest to get around on two wheels, as less foot traffic will be on the paved Little Missouri River Trail and the graveled Prospectors Trail. These trails are also perfect for kids to get around and burn off some energy before turning in to the campervan for the night.
You don't have to worry about bringing all sorts of food along in the camper, as this state park spoils its guests with an on-site restaurant. The Kimberlite Cafe is open from Memorial Day through until Labor Day weekend, all seven days of the week. During the last three weeks of peak season, the cafe is open, but only on weekends. The cafe offers a casual, home-style menu that includes all sorts of sandwiches, burgers, and desserts.
Another unique feature of the state park, the Diamond Springs Water Park, is a place the whole family can enjoy. Even if you're without the kids, feel free to cool off after searching for diamonds on a hot summer day. This mining-themed water park is open from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day. It features all sorts of fun sprayers, geysers, water jets, and animated waterspouts, as well as two water slides. The setting is complete with a spacious deck and pool furniture.
The park's professional interpreters present guests with a variety of programs throughout the year. Programs running between Memorial Day and through Labor Day tend to be the most highly attended, and include activities such as diamond mining demonstrations, history walks, rock hound hikes, and, at times, evening programs. Even the kids can get involved with a summer program series for guests ages 6-12.
Guests come from far and wide to dig up diamonds in a 37.5-acre plowed field. Here, you have the opportunity to dig your way through the eroded surface of an ancient volcanic crater. It is the eighth largest (in surface area) diamond-bearing deposit in the world. Visitors may unearth many other rocks and minerals, and any rock or mineral that you find is yours to keep. Avid rock hounds may already have their own digging equipment, but, if you didn't tote your gear along with you in the Airstream, tools can be rented at the Discovery Center. See if you have what it takes to add to the 33,000 diamonds visitors have already found here since the park was established in 1972.
Before you get dirty in the diamond crater, stop by the park's Diamond Discovery Center. This interpretive center allows guests to engage with the diamonds and bridge education with the discovery of diamonds. There are many exhibits to tour, and visitors can meet with the park's interpretive staff. While you're here, view the Hall of Fame, watch an on-demand instructional diamond mining video, or view a searching demonstration. Here, you can also rent your digging equipment.