Are you a cold-weather diamond miner?
By Waymon Cox
Greetings from Crater of Diamonds State Park! Though most of our days have begun with freezing temperatures this year, many hardy visitors have come in search of diamonds in spite of the weather. Winter can be a great time to visit the park. Vacationing in spring and summer may not always be feasible for many of our visitors. While summer is definitely the most popular season for families at the park, some people enjoy cooler temperatures and a quieter, more relaxed diamond search. Winter rains also cause lots of erosion in the plowed search area and can increase the chances of finding a diamond!
There are many important factors to consider when preparing for a cold-weather diamond hunt. Often, one of the first challenges our winter visitors face is simply walking through the search area. Parts of the field may stay muddy throughout winter, due to more rain and less sunlight, and they can be difficult to navigate. Proper footwear and foot placement are crucial. Wear rubber boots to keep your feet dry and to provide more traction in slippery mud.
Work boots are another popular choice of footwear, and thick socks can help keep your feet warm and dry if your boots aren’t waterproof. The park also sells rubber shoe covers that can even keep tennis shoes clean and dry in the mud!
Be cautious of ice on cold mornings, and use a hiking stick to keep your balance in slippery areas. To prevent sinking in mud, avoid water puddles in the search area, and walk where gravel is visible on top of the ground.
Wind can also be a problem for many visitors in cold weather. Stay low in the field, and search near trees to help block the breeze. Wear a hat and coat to keep wind chill from becoming a factor in your search.
How you plan to search for diamonds can also influence how you prepare for the weather. Surface searching and dry sifting are both somewhat warmer options for winter diamond mining. However, dry sifting may not be possible in some areas if the soil is frozen or wet, and cloud cover can make it difficult to spot the metallic shine of a diamond. To make surface searching easier, bring a stool or bucket to sit on, and look carefully for anything that sparkles.
Wet sifting poses a different challenge. The park’s two covered washing pavilions aren’t heated, and water in the sifting troughs may be extremely cold or even frozen during winter. However, wet sifting is also one of the most successful ways to find diamonds. To take advantage of the benefits of wet sifting, keep your hands warm and dry with a pair of cloth gloves worn under rubber gloves. Air-activated hand warmers can also make winter wet sifting a much more comfortable experience.
The park is open
seven days a week during winter, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (rain, snow, or shine). Our campground is also open and features 47 Class AAA campsites and five walk-in tent sites. It’s a great place to stay nearby if you want to get an early start at cold-weather diamond mining!
to subscribe to our e-newsletter. It's free!
Most recent significant precipitation: January 10, 2014
Diamond finds for the week of January 12, 2014 (100 points = one carat):
No diamonds registered January 12 – 13.
January 14 – Natsuyo Ishinoda, Tokyo, Japan, 4 pt. white; Al Fling, Leadville, CO, 3 pt. yellow
January 16 – Gerald Weitzel, Albert Lea, MN, 23 pt. yellow
January 17 – Natsuyo Ishinoda, Tokyo, Japan, 3 pt. white