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Arkansas is one of those states where rockhounding for gems and minerals is truly a blessing, not to mention that here lies the only diamond mine in the world that is available to the public, and finders are keepers! Over 75,000 diamonds have been discovered by enthusiasts at the Crater of Diamonds State Park, Murfreesboro.
In Arkansas, apart from diamonds, you can find quartz crystals, amethyst, opals, turquoise, manganese, pearls, amber, petrified wood, bauxite, jasper, rock crystals, garnets, and a wide variety of minerals such as galena, wavellite, cinnabar, antimony, diopside, epidote, apatite, sphene, among many others.
But what are the best-digging sites in Arkansas, and what can you find there? Let’s take you on a journey throughout Arkansas, and present to you some of the best rockhounding sites in this state, what you can find, and other state rules and facts!
If you are interested in checking out the best rockhounding book about rockhounding in Arkansas you can find it by clicking here (Amazon link).
Best Rockhounding Sites in Arkansas
The best rockhounding sites in Arkansas include Saline County, Crater of Diamonds State Park, Murfreesboro, Mount Ida, Hot Springs County, Jessieville, Ouachita Mountains & National Forest, Pulaski County, Lake Catherine, Fisher Mountain, Magnet Cove, Lawrence County the Black Rock area, and others.
As you can see, there are plenty of great places to rockhound in Arkansas, and the best part is that most of them are near each other. Let’s take some of these locations and see exactly where to go and what you can find!
Mount Ida is among the best places to rockhound in Arkansas for high-quality quartz crystals. Here, you can also find rock crystals, smoky quartz crystals, or wavellite. Some of the quartz specimens you can find in this area can be pretty big.
One famous location in this region is the Wegner Quartz Mine, where some of the most beautiful quartz specimens have been unearthed, while rock crystals and smoky quartz can be found in Fisher Mountain.
Wavellite specimens are located just east of Highway 270. Concerning the Wegner Quartz Mine, you still have to pay a small fee to enter; however, this is among the only places in the United States where you can find the so-called phantom quartz.
In Saline County, you can find gemmy bauxite, heliotrope bauxite, serpentine, milky or smoky quartz crystals, calcite, chert, chlorite, or feldspar, among other minerals.
The quarries near Bauxite are a great place to start, while north of Blocher, serpentine can be found in the patches of quartz. Southwest of Paron, in the outcrops, is where most minerals can be found, or even quartz crystals.
Probably the most famous location in Arkansas for rockhounding is Murfreesboro since here is where the Crater of Diamonds State Park is located.
Apart from diamonds, you can find in Murfreesboro amethyst, jasper, agate, garnet, quartz crystals, diopside, epidote, hematite, peridot, and pyrite, especially at Prairie Creek, southeast of Murfreesboro. At the south end of Lake Gleason is where you can find antimony or cinnabar.
Nonetheless, the Crater of Diamonds State Park is where to go in Murfreesboro to find some lovely little diamond specimens. You have to pay a small fee before entering.
Another popular and great spot for rockhounding in Arkansas is Marion County. Zinc, agate, galena, pyrite, smithsonite, sphalerite, calcite, quartz crystals, dolomite, and greenockite all can be found in this county.
The Yellville area mines are a great spot to search for galena, pyrite, smithsonite, or sphalerite. Morning Star mines, in particular, are abundant in them. For agates, go to Clabber Creek, and explore the region. You never know what you might find!
BTW: Do you want to know more about rock and mineral identification? The books listed below are the best ones you can find on the internet (Amazon links):
- Smithsonian Handbooks: Rocks & Minerals
- Gemstone & Crystal Properties (Quick Study Home)
- Ultimate Explorer Field Guide: Rocks and Minerals (National Geographic Kids)
Where Can You Dig for Diamonds and Gems in Arkansas?
The best place to dig for diamonds and gemstones in Arkansas is the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro. You will have to pay a small fee to enter, and apart from diamonds, you can find amethyst, garnets, agates, jasper, or quartz crystals.
In Mount Ida, you can dig for gems at the Wegner Quartz Crystals Mines or the Dixie Crystal Mining Company for a small fee.
Some other great locations include the Sweet Surrender Crystal in Washita, or the Jim Coleman Crystals, and Ron Coleman Mining in Jessieville.
Types of Rocks in Arkansas
In Arkansas, you can find all sorts of sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous rocks, including geodes, obsidian, bauxite, agate, chert, dolomite, shale, limestone, sandstone, siltstones, novaculite, clay, or gypsum, among others.
In the table below, we have highlighted some of the more popular rocks that you can find in Arkansas.
|Geodes||Mount Ida, Jessieville, Hot Springs County|
|Obsidian||The Ozark Plateau, the Ouachita Mountains, West Gulf Coastal Plain|
|Bauxite||Pulaski County, Saline County, Arkansas River Valley|
|Agates||Cowley’s Ridge, Clay County, Philips County|
Geodes are particularly rare in Arkansas; however, you might be able to find them in regions such as Mount Ida, Jessieville, or Hot Springs County.
The Ron Coleman Mining in Jessieville, for example, is a fee-to-dig site where you may find geodes. The Ouachita Mountains also seem like a favorable spot to find geodes in Arkansas as well.
When it comes to finding obsidian in Arkansas, chances are pretty slim. South of the Ouachita Mountains at the northern ends of the West Gulf Coastal Plain, some igneous rocks, volcanic tuff, and ash layers, and this is probably your luckiest bet to find obsidian in Arkansas. Check for areas where volcanic activity was present.
TIP: Time, patience, and additional equipment are needed to differentiate between natural and fake obsidian. Find out more in the article below:
Real vs. Fake Obsidian Stone: Check These 8 Key Differences
What Gemstones Are Found in Arkansas?
Plenty of beautiful and valuable gemstones can be found in Arkansas, such as amethyst, turquoise, opal, diamonds, garnet, amber, onyx, pearls, or chalcedony, among many others.
Check the table below to see exactly where you can find some of the most popular gemstones in Arkansas. Down below, we will discuss some of these specimens in detail.
|Amethyst||Pike County, Crater of Diamonds State Park, Prairie Creek|
|Turquoise||Saline County, Montgomery County, Ouachita Mountains|
|Opal||Benton County, Lake Catherine, Pike County|
|Diamond||Crater of Diamonds State Park, Murfreesboro, Pike County|
Some beautiful amethyst specimens can be found in Arkansas, especially at the Crater of Diamonds State Park, in Murfreesboro, Pike County.
Another great location is in the Prairie Creek area, just southeast of Murfreesboro. They are similar to Brazilian amethyst specimens, and you can also find them in Saline County, in the crusts of serpentine rocks.
When it comes to finding turquoise in Arkansas, some of the best places to search for are Saline County, Montgomery County, and especially the Ouachita Mountains. Here, high-quality turquoise gemstones can be found.
Mauldin Mountain is also a great place to search for this gemstone.
Opals are easy to find in Arkansas, in places such as Benton County, Lake Catherine, or Pike County. In Garland County, at the Potash Springs intrusion, green-yellowish opals have been discovered.
In another location very close to this one, the North Wilson pit, fire opals have been unearthed. Hyaline opals may be found in southern and eastern Arkansas, where petrified wood is common.
TIP: Opals are easy to find in Arkansas. But you have to be careful when buying opals online. There is a lot of fake opals on the internet. Check out the main differences between real and fake opals in the article below:
Real vs. Fake Opal: Focus on These 6 Differences
What Crystals Are Found in Arkansas?
Various types of crystals can be found in Arkansas, such as quartz crystals, jasper, rock crystals, serpentine, hematite, peridot, smoky quartz crystals, brookite, melanite garnet, pyrite cubes, nepheline, biotite, nepheline-syenite containing eudialyte, or magnetite, among others.
In the table below, we have highlighted some of the most important crystals in Arkansas and where you can find them.
|Quartz Crystals||Hot Springs County, Fisher Mountain, Mount Ida|
|Jasper||Crater of Diamonds State Park, Murfreesboro,|
|Rock Crystals||Mount Ida, Fisher Mountain, Hot Springs County|
|Serpentine||Saline County, North of Blocher, Pulaski County|
Various types of quartz crystals are present in Arkansas, such as rock crystals, amethyst, and smoky quartz, and here you can also find cryptocrystalline quartz varieties such as chalcedony, agates, jasper, and banded chert.
You can find quartz crystals in Arkansas in places such as Hot Springs County, Fisher Mountain, or Mount Ida.
Smoky quartz is present in Jessieville, Garland County, and near the Magnet Cove intrusion in Hot Springs County. Near Lake Ouachita, some big quartz specimens have been discovered. Quartz crystals have also been found in Saline County.
Head to Mount Ida and go to Fisher Mountain at the Ocus Stanley Mine to find rock crystals and even smoky quartz samples. Another significant region is located in Hot Springs.
The rock ridges situated outside of Hot Springs National Park are where you can find some beautiful rock crystals and quartz crystal specimens.
TIP: Jasper is one of the most widespread gemstones with some very distinct properties for identifying real stones. Find out the complete identification guide in the article below:
Identifying Real Jasper Mineral (Step-by-Step Guide)
What Minerals Are Found in Arkansas?
Arkansas has a wide variety of minerals. Here you can find manganese, pyrite, galena, fluorite, calcite, chlorite, feldspar, uranium ore, Columbium ore, wavellite, variscite, sphalerite, smithsonite, greenockite, zinc, cinnabar, antimony, diopside, epidote, apatite, monticellite, perovskite, kimzeyite, or sphene (titanite), among others.
In the table below, we have highlighted some of the more popular minerals that you can find in Arkansas and their locations.
|Manganese||Batesville District, West-Central Arkansas District, Saline County|
|Pyrite||Magnet Cove, Prairie Creek, Marion County|
|Galena||Marion County, Yellville area mines, Boone County|
|Fluorite||Lake Catherine, Hot Springs County, Garland County|
When it comes to manganese minerals, they can be found in Arkansas in large deposits in the Batesville District and the West-Central Arkansas District.
The mines in the northwestern parts of Independence County, Izard County, or Stone County produce most manganese ore.
The West-Central Arkansas District where manganese is found includes Saline County, Pulaski County, Garland County, Hot Springs County, Montgomery, Pike, Polk, and Howard counties.
If you want to find pyrite, head to the south slope of West Mountain in Hot Springs Country. In Marion County, you can discover pyrite at the Yellville area mines.
Head to Prairie Creek in Murfreesboro, Pike County, or go to Cove Creek in Magnet Cove to discover pyrite cubes and stay on the lookout for other mineral specimens that are just waiting to be found.
TIP: Arkansas is full of glowing minerals under UV light. Do you know how to use UV light for finding rocks? Check out the ultimate guide about rockhounding with UV light in the article below:
GUIDE: Rockhounding with UV Light & 3 Best UV Lights (2021)
Gold & Diamond Mining in Arkansas
Diamond mining in Arkansas is available to the public in Pike County at Murfreesboro, the Crater of Diamonds State Park. Over 75,000 diamonds have been discovered by enthusiasts here.
When it comes to gold mining in Arkansas, things are a bit different. Arkansas is among the poorest states when it comes to gold panning.
Gold prospectors may try their luck in finding gold in Arkansas in places such as the range west of Little Rock or the draining streams of the Ouachita Mountains.
Be it as it may, even though Arkansas is not popular for its gold reserves, that shouldn’t stop you from trying, especially as the state appears rich in all sorts of other minerals.
Fossils & Dinosaur Bones in Arkansas
In Arkansas, the Ozark Plateau is among the best places to find fossils, such as shark teeth, bryozoan, coral, crinoid, blastoid, trilobite, and mollusk specimens.
Plant fossils are mainly present in the Arkansas River Valley, while dinosaur bones can be found in the Ouachita Mountains, the West Gulf Coastal Plain, or the Mississippi Embayment. Mastodon or mammoth remains have been discovered in these places.
In the Mississippi Embayment region, Arkansas, you can also find petrified wood. Petrified wood is quite rare in Arkansas; however, this region, among a few others in the northeastern parts of the state, does have some specimens that you can find.
When it comes to finding artifacts or relics in Arkansas, such as spearheads or arrowheads, some of the best places to look for include the Ouachita River, the Renegade Ranch meadows, or River Valley, arrowheads are generally found near lakes or other water bodies where the ancients would often hunt animals.
TIP: Did you know you can make a sea glass by yourself at home? Yes, and it is quite easy to do so. Check out the ultimate guide about making sea glass with and without rock tumbler in the article below:
Step-by-Step: Making Sea Glass With & Without Rock Tumbler
FAQ About Rockhounding in Arkansas
Still did not find the answer to your answers about rockhounding in Arkansas? Find frequently asked questions in the section below:
What is the Best Crystal Mine in Arkansas?
The best crystal mine in Arkansas is the Wegner Quartz Mine, located just south of Mount Ida. Here, enthusiasts can pay a small fee and enjoy endless hours of exploration and digging.
An exceptional variety of quartz with unique coloring known as phantom quartz can be found in this location. Visitors get to enjoy the thrill of rockhounding in this abundant Arkansas quartz mine and take home whatever they can find.
What is the Largest Diamond Found in Arkansas?
The largest diamond found in Arkansas, and overall the United States, is the one known as Uncle Sam, which was discovered in 1924 at the Crater of Diamonds State Park, Murfreesboro, Pike County.
The specimen weighed 40.23 carats / 8.046 g initially, and after the polishing procedures, it weighed 12.42 carats / 2.484 g. It was named after Wesley Oley Basham, the finder of the enormous diamond.
What is the Most Expensive Diamond Found in Arkansas?
The most expensive diamond recently found in Arkansas is the one known as Kirnard’s Diamond, weighing 9.07 carats. It was discovered in late 2020 at the Crater of Diamonds State Park, Murfreesboro, Pike County, by an enthusiast.
Considering that a similar diamond, known as the Amarillo Starlight, weighing 7.54 carats, had an estimated price of at least $150,000, the Kirnard’s Diamond may well be around the $200,000 mark.
What is Arkansas State Rock?
The official state rock of Arkansas has been bauxite since 1967. This sedimentary rock contains high aluminum contents, responsible for the world’s main source of aluminum and gallium.
It is formed through nepheline syenite weathering under tropical conditions. Arkansas holds some of the most significant bauxite deposits in the United States, predominantly located in its Saline and Pulaski counties.
What is Arkansas State GemStone?
The official state gemstone of Arkansas is the diamond. It was designated as such in 1967, while diamonds have been found in this state since 1906.
Arkansas is the most critical diamond-producing state in the United States, as over 100,000 diamonds have been unearthed here. The famous Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas is the only place in America where you can dig for diamonds and keep what you find.
What is Arkansas State Mineral?
Quartz has been the official state mineral of Arkansas since 1967. Cryptocrystalline quartz varieties such as chalcedony, agates, jasper, banded chert, and other types of quartz such as rock crystals, amethyst, or smoky quartz can be found in Arkansas.
Primarily mined in the Ouachita Mountains, quartz is sometimes nicknamed “Arkansas Diamonds.” Due to its exceptional clarity, Arkansas quartz is among the highest-quality you can find in the United States.
Does Arkansas have a State Dinosaur?
The official state dinosaur of Arkansas is the Arkanasaurus fridayi, since 2017. This giant omnivore was between 6 and 15 feet tall. It lived during the Early Cretaceous period, more than 100 million years ago.
It is the only known species in its class, and it bears a superficial resemblance to the modern-day ostrich. The first fossils of this dinosaur were discovered in 1972 in Sevier County.
Arkansas is an excellent state for rockhounding enthusiasts, especially since it is among the only places in the world where ordinary people can find diamonds and keep them for free.
Apart from this, its variety of crystals, and especially minerals, is fantastic and well worth the trip, not to mention that the quartz you may find here will be of the highest quality.
BTW: Check out this amazing metal sign (Amazon link) which is perfect for everyone who loves rockhounding in Arkansas!
TIP: And it’s rockhounding time now! But do you know what tools you need for rockhounding? Check out the list of all needed tools and equipment for rockhounding in the article below:
The Complete Guide: All Tools You Need for Rockhounding