Friday, March 11, 2016

Honeymoon Destination: Crater of Diamonds State Park (Arkansas)

This photo of a butterfly lighting upon the mud in the digging fields of Crater
of Diamonds State Park (Arkansas) was taken in 2011 by Kathy, a member
of Flickr.

Do you find your solace amid lush stands of tall deciduous trees lining lazy rolling rivers and big sky clouds?

Do you long for an adventure in diamond country?

If so, then might we recommend a honeymoon trip to Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, Arkansas?

Arkansas may not be the first place you'd think of when you think of romance, but diamonds most certainly should be!

Did we mention that in Arkansas you can hunt for your own diamonds in the only publicly accessible diamond mine in the world? Well, you can! And several people have found genuine diamonds at Crater of Diamonds, a few of them fairly sizable.

The 900-acre park stretches along the Little Missouri River and features interpretive programs, diamond hunting education, a water park, and miles of hiking trails. The park is the result of a marketing strategy that worked brilliantly for miner Howard A. Millar. In 1952, Millar aggressively promoted his diamond mine, inviting people from all over to come and find treasure in his diamond field. 

A geologist by trade, Millar gave lectures and classified the diamonds found by his mine's visitors. Eventually, a museum, gift shop, and restaurant were opened on site, and the Crater of Diamonds was born. Throughout the '50s and '60s, visitors to the mine found thousands of diamonds that they took home as souvenirs.

In 1972, the mine was purchased by the State of Arkansas. It continues to run as a State Park to this day. The park is beautiful and inspiring in so many ways, although the least inspiring place, called the Pig Pen, is the only place on the grounds where diamonds can be found.

The Pig Pen is a wide open, 37-acre mud field rich in volcanic kimberlite soil. Here, beneath the broad open sky, visitors to the park hunt dig their hands, with shovels, or with picks and screens to find the yellow, brown, and white diamonds that are harvested from the old volcanic pipe.

In addition to diamonds, rockhounds can find treasure in the form of garnet, amethyst, jasper, and other quartz and agate stones. All of these can be brought to the Diamond Discovery Center for identification and registration (for diamonds only). You get to keep what you find, and the cost is nothing more than park admission.

If you decide to honeymoon in Arkansas, then may we also recommend a stay at the nearby Diamonds Cabins?

Diamonds Cabins offers an inclusive Old West experience that begins with a stay in Crazy Diamonds Saloon. The Saloon is an upstairs suite which features a one-of-a-kind western king-size bed outfitted with memory foam and Egyptian cotton sheets. The upstairs windows overlook a panoramic view of the mountains. A two-person jacuzzi/hot tub is surrounded by mirrors, and a private deck offers outdoor romance at any time, day or night. The room also includes the use of a fire pit, a grill, and picnic tables for enjoying the great outdoors.

If you get tired of lounging in your suite, you can take a stroll into the Old West. Begin with a visit to the General Store. At the General Store you can purchase old-fashioned penny candies, locally made goat's milk beauty products, locally sourced geodes, and any cookout supplies you might need.

If you're in the mood for some playful fun, then take yourself on a child's adventure at the Horse Trot Pedal Car Track, the sudsy Foam Party, and the Corn Pit! You know you want to suds each other up and take a roll in the corn!!

And if your hunt in the Pig Pen yielded less than satisfactory results, then try your hand at the Old West Sluice Box. Every gem bag contains crystals, arrowheads, fools gold, pirate coins, shark teeth, agates, fossils, geodes, native jewelry, and more.

If you love the Old West and good, clean (okay, maybe muddy, sudsy, and corny) fun, then we cannot more highly recommend a honeymoon at Crater of Diamonds State Park!

~Angela Magnotti Andrews, Staff Writer

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