Arkansas was our next destination. When we were looking for things to do in Arkansas, we spoke with many friends who recommended we mine for diamonds. What? Yes, mine for diamonds…that we could KEEP!
–Crater of Diamonds offers park visitors a one-of-a-kind experience—the adventure of hunting for real diamonds. You’ll search over a 37 ½-acre plowed field that is the eroded surface of the world’s eighth largest diamond-bearing volcanic crater. If you find a diamond, it is yours to keep.
The kids were decidedly most looking forward to this adventure as they were sure we were going to find a big diamond. And when we read that right before our trip, an 8.52-carat diamond was found at the park, the kids’ excitement was peaked! We paid $8 for everyone 13 and up, and $5 for the 5-12 year olds, 5 and under were free. This was admission to the park area…from there we were free to search all day.
We were allowed to bring equipment with us, but as we had none, we were able to rent a “basic diamond hunting kit” for just $10. The kit included a shovel, a screen set and a bucket. (This also required a $35 deposit returned to us when we returned the kit. The kit was recommended for a few people, but as the big kids wanted to surface search we just rented one for the group of us.)
While the big kids searched on their own, the littles picked our “lucky” spot and began to dig. We then took our dirt to sluice it…running the water through our haul to clear the dirt and mud and to sieve for diamonds.
We found a huge diamond right away!!!
Just kidding – this was one of the salt crystals that we had from the salt mine…we snapped a shot to share with friends exclaiming that we struck it rich. The kids thought it was funny because the salt crystals were so pretty they had initially thought they were diamonds…
We happened to be at the park during a severe heat wave and there was not a lot of shade in the park. It was highly recommended that we have sun screen, hats and water to keep us protected from the harsh sun. We took these precautions but still didn’t last long in the park.
The boys had to be drug out of the park as they did NOT want to leave until they found a diamond. LOL.
The park staff who examined our treasures to let us know what we’d found…many other gems and minerals including quartz, amethyst, garnet, jasper, and agate can be found in the park. The kids did find particles of most of these…all but the diamond. They got to keep what they found and take them home.
We drove up to Hot Springs where we spent the next few nights relaxing and sightseeing. We stayed at the Embassy Suites Hot Springs Hotel & Spa and we unanimously think this was the best hotel we’ve stayed in as a family.
The pool was lovely, the room spacious, and the service unbeatable. They also provided cook to order breakfasts and an evening reception with snacks and drinks. A fabulous extra that we were able to enjoy that weekend was the entertainment in the spacious reception area – a pianist who performed beautifully. We enjoyed extra time playing games and relaxing with fabulous entertainment.
We also took some time to explore Hot Springs National Park. The bath houses provided ranger lead tours and one of our kiddos was selected to help in that tour. He enjoyed his time being pampered.
We completed the Junior ranger booklet and learned much about the history of the area. Due to the heat, the kids were convinced that we could not walk outside or we’d dehydrate immediately…so we coerced them with ice cream and completed a look though many of the bath houses. No one dehydrated along the way –lol
When we went to get the junior ranger badges, the kids discussed how hot they were with the park ranger and she directed us to some walking paths in the park where there was a spring in which the kids could swim -it was not a hot spring just a regular old spring :)… but there was sliding rocks and cool water in which to splash – what could be better? Again, this was an unplanned adventure and again one of the best memories.
We really enjoyed out time here and even extended our stay an extra day to enjoy and relax. We had just one more stop on our way home…St Louis, MO.