According to a popular legend in Arkansas, a man named John Crittenhouse found $150,000 worth of gold coins. He recovered the treasure from a Union gunboat that sunk during the Civil War. Crittenhouse then buried his fortune in a cave near Claredon to keep it away from other people’s eyes.
Arkansas is a paradise for treasure hunters as it does not have strict metal detecting laws. So, if you want to explore this state, below is a list of the best places where you can start searching.
Among the list is:
- Petite Jean State Park
- Mount Magazine State Park
- Lake Poinsett State Park
- Daisy State Park
- Cane Creek State Park
- Black River
- Little Missouri River
- Rolling Fork River
- Saline River
- Caddo River
- Bull Shoals Lake
- DeGray Lake
- Seven Devils Lake
- Beaver Lake
- Gilham Lake
The Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism manages this 3,471-acre state park. It lies at the top of the Petit Jean Mountain, making it a good place for hikers and those who like walking on trails. The park is also adjacent to the Arkansas River.
According to a popular legend in Arkansas, Petit Jean State Park got its name from an 18th-century woman named Petit Jean. The woman’s fiancé went to explore the Louisiana Territory, and she disguised as a man to join the voyage. When the expedition reached the mountain, Petite Jean fell ill and revealed herself to her fiancé.
Petite Jean died, and her fellowmen buried her in the mountain under the name she used when disguised as a man, “Little John,” which the locals pronounce as “PET-ih jeen.”
Metal Detecting Tip: Surprisingly, Arkansas has treasure just waiting to be discovered. It’s often the less popular areas that yield the best finds. Learn more about where to metal detect in AR with this article 👉 The Best Places to Metal Detect in Arkansas
Mount Magazine State Park measures 2,234 acres and has been populated since the 1850s. In 1938, it became a part of the Ouachita National Forest. In 1941, it became a part of the Ozark National Forest again.
Finally, the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism declared Mount Magazine a state park after the conversion process that lasted for 22 years.
Today, Mount Magazine State Park is the highest park in Arkansas.
Lake Poinsett State Park was formed after Distress Creek’s damming and creation of a recreational lake in Poinsett County in 1960. It sits along the lake’s western bank and covers a total area of 132 acres.
In the 1950s, activists in Harrisburg and other places in Poinsett County started the efforts to obtain a recreational lake. However, the lack of funds prevented them from gaining success. Their actions only became successful in 1960.
This state park offers visitors different recreational activities, such as boating and picnicking by the river bank.
This 276-acre state park is at the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains. One of its primary attractions is the Lake Greeson, which the United States Army Corps of Engineers established in 1950. Since the park is near the Ouachita National Forest, you will see many timberlands surrounding it.
Moreover, Lake Greeson is a fishing lake, so fishing is the main activity you can do at the state park.
5. Cane Creek State Park – Lincoln County
Cane Creek State Park is home to the 1,675-acre Cane Creek Lake. This wooded lake borders the world’s longest bayou – Bayou Bartholomew. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission pledged to build and maintain the park’s lake when the US Department of Agriculture’s Soil Conservation Service provided federal funds for its establishment in 1973.
Today, Cane Creek State Park offers activities including mountain biking, hiking, backpacking, fishing, and kayaking. The park also has a 15.5-mile trail for hikers and bikers.
This river is the White River’s tributary. Black River, which measures 300 miles long, is in northeastern Arkansas and southeastern Missouri. It is also a part of the Mississippi River watershed via the White River.
Moreover, the Black River got its name as its water has a black tint, making it appear dark.
Treasure hunters may explore the banks of this river and look for treasures there. However, they must ensure they are not disturbing other people’s activity on the river.
Find out more about essential metal detecting gear with these articles
This 147-mile river runs from the Ouachita Mountains into the surrounding countryside’s rolling hills area. The Little Missouri River comes from a rocky mountain and flows through tapered forested canyons. The position of the river allows it to create waterfalls with clear waters. As a result, the Little Missouri River and its surrounding area boast outstanding scenery.
The Little Missouri River got its name from the Missouri River’s early French explorers.
The Rolling Fork River and the DeQueen Dam form the DeQueen Lake. This river is the Little River’s tributary and runs parallel with the Saline, Cossatot, Glover, and Mountain Fork Rivers. Additionally, the Rolling Fork River is a part of the Mississippi watershed.
This river offers different activities for visitors. That includes fishing, boating, skiing, and ground activities like picnicking and camping.
This 202-mile river is the Ouachita River’s tributary. The Saline River or Saline Creek is the longest river that only flows within Arkansas. One end of the river starts at the Ouachita Mountain’s eastern foothills and reaches its confluence north of Lake Jack Lee, particularly at the Ouachita River.
The Saline River has four tributaries:
- South Fork
- Middle Fork
- Alum Fork
- North Fork
Like the Saline River, the Caddo River is a tributary of the Ouachita River. It starts at the Ouachita Mountains and flows through Montgomery, Pike, and Clark counties. Then, the river flows into DeGray Lake and, finally, to the Ouachita River.
The Caddo River’s popular recreational activities are family canoeing and fishing. Treasure hunters can also explore the water itself and the riverbanks.
This lake is an artificial reservoir in the Ozark Mountains. It impounds the White River, and after passing through this river, the lake’s water travels towards the Mississippi River. The Army Corps of Engineers controlled the lake to prevent flooding when it rained and the river overflowed.
Today, Bull Shoals Lake’s shorelines serve as boat launches and campgrounds. On the other hand, the waters are great for swimming, fishing, and other watersports.
Metal Detecting Tip: Learn the “Art” of detecting in a river or stream. Some of my best finds have come from canoe launches. Read- How to Metal Detect Rivers and Streams
The United States Army Corps of Engineers created this lake as a reservoir on the Caddo River.
On the eastern shore of DeGray Lake is the Arkansas Scenic Byway 7, which provides a good view of the lake. When the United States Army Corps of Engineers built the DeGray Lake, it also created the DeGray Dam. The dam sits 240 feet above the Caddo River.
Moreover, the primary recreational activity in the lake is boating. There are also two playgrounds, nine campgrounds, biking and hiking trails, and eleven boat ramps.
Seven Devils Lake lies approximately 14 miles away from Monticello, Arkansas. This small reservoir got its name when a man got trapped in the area for a week. A reporter asked the man if he had found the seven lakes. However, the man said that there are no seven lakes in the area, but there are seven devils.
The Seven Devils Swamp Wildlife Management Area protects this river. Seven Devils River has been draining for the last century, so the government created a wildlife management area to protect and preserve the wetlands. So, it is ideal to ask permission from the authorities before you start metal detecting in the area.
Beaver Lake is an artificial reservoir in the Ozark Mountains; a dam across the White River forms this lake with 487 miles of shoreline. Beaver Lake is a tourist destination thanks to the beauty of its natural caves, limestone bluffs, trees, and flowering bushes.
Apart from sightseeing, swimming, hiking, boating, and picnicking are some of the best recreational activities in Beaver Lake. Campsites are also available in the area.
This small reservoir sits along the Cossatot River in Howard County through the west of Polk County. The creation of Gilham Lake aims to control floods, provide water supply, and protect wildlife in the area. The Flood Control Act of 1958 did not plan to include recreational establishments on the lake but built them still.
There are five recreational areas, three campgrounds, a swimming area, and five boat ramps in Gilham Lake. The lake itself offers 1,370 acres of fishing, boating, and canoeing areas.
Arkansas’ Ozark Mountains have numerous treasure stories. One legend says that the Conquistadors stole silver and gold but had to hide them in a cave somewhere in Ozark Mountains due to the bad weather. Soon, the natives caught and killed the Conquistadors. However, they never knew where the treasure hides. (source)
Metal Detecting Tip: Check out this little piece of history. While putting this article together I found an old article from 1937 talking about GOLD discoveries. Check out this link to the Geology Department at the State of Arkansas – Gold Discovery Document PDF
Is It Legal to Metal Detect in Arkansas?
Arkansas offers many treasure hunting opportunities for metal detector hobbyists. Metal detecting in this state may result in valuable finds and treasures. However, there are rules that you need to follow.
Suppose you are planning to use a metal detector on private land. In that case, you first need to get written permission from its owner before anything else. While verbal consent already works, you can keep yourself safe from legal recourse if you present the authorities with a written permit in case, they question you.
Some Arkansas State Parks allow metal detector hobbyists to treasure hunt in the area, but there are limitations. Hunters can only explore public swim beaches. Still, it is ideal to ask permission from a park manager first to know where precisely you can detect metal. (source)
According to the Archeological Resources Protection Act, items believed to be over 100 years old must not be removed from the public, federal, and state lands. The act aims to protect artifacts with historical value from damage and loss.
Read more about the details of the Archeological Resources Protection Act at the U.S. Forest Service website with THIS LINK
On the other hand, modern treasures excavated from areas where metal detecting is legal do not simply fall under the “finders keepers” rule. If you found a piece of jewelry, you must file a found property report before leaving the area where the metal was detected. If no owner claimed the item you found after 30 days, the authorities would give you the ownership of the thing you saw. (source)
- Local metal detector enthusiasts Jonathon Hopper and David Bernard found artifacts from the civil war across the River Valley. (source)
- Adam Hardin, a diamond hunter, found a 2.38-carat brown diamond at the Crater of Diamonds State Park. (source)
- A family from Kilgore found a fortune worth $50,000 hidden in Hot Springs after following the clues from a book written by the same person who hid the said treasure. (source)
According to this legend, there was a cave near the Ozark rivers, creeks, and tributaries. Inside the cave, the Spaniards hid the gold and a few artifacts, and reports during the 1900s solidified the treasure’s existence. However, the cave’s exact location is a mystery, so that no one can find the lost wealth. (source)
This story states that when the Cossatot River eroded a massive amount of its overlying rock, it exposed granite with a vein of gold. The Spanish explorers commanded by Hernando de Soto discovered the vein, mined the gold, and dug a vertical mine that measures more than 100 feet deep. However, these Spaniards suddenly abandoned the area while the mining site still had gold for them to gather. Early settlers soon found the mining area but lost it again. To this day, no one knows the exact location of the gold mine. (source)
Mose Freeman went out to gather corn crops near the big Piney Creek in 1910. When Freeman arrived at the corn field, he noticed two men camping in the wooded area near his field. The two men asked Freeman if he saw any turtle or snake carvings in the area, and when he replied no, the two left the town on their wagon. Not long after, Freeman went into the woods and found a snake carving on an old tree. According to historical records, Spaniards used to carve snakes to point out where they buried a treasure. The snake’s head points toward the hidden wealth. (source)
Metal Detecting Louisiana, My Stories – Brent Thompson
Brent Thompson wrote this book to share his stories about how he started and progressed in metal detecting. He also shares what he learned about this hobby, how to find a good metal detecting spot, and how to find a treasure.
This book will teach you the basics of metal detecting and how to improve your treasure hunting skills. (source)
Let’s Go Metal Detecting: Everything You Need to Know to Get Out in the Field This Weekend – Brian K. Maloney
This book will be helpful if you are a beginner in treasure hunting. This book will teach you the first things you need to know and understand about your newfound hobby. It even teaches metal detector enthusiasts how to improve their treasure hunting abilities.
Even better, this book by Brian Maloney discusses the legal issues of metal detecting. (source)
Lost Treasures of the Ozarks: Missouri – Arkansas (America’s Lost Treasures) – Bud Steed
This book will tell you about the lost treasures in the Ozark Mountains, so you know where you may find them. These treasures include Spanish gold and silver bars and hidden stolen treasures. There are even folklores of lost fortunes like gold and silver for every treasure hunter to enjoy. (source)
Wondering What Metal Detecting Equipment I Use? Check Out My Favorites Below
I’m frequently asked what machines I use and recommend. No doubt about it, for the beginner get the Nokta Makro Simplex + Kit it’s the best. 100% waterproof, wireless headphones and pinpointer. Check prices and reviews with quick links below.
The next thing you need is a great shovel, believe me when I say you’ll dig more knowing you can dig FASTER. Links below to the nearly bullet proof Lesche T- Handle Shovel
Metal Detecting and Beaches are a perfect match. Easy digging and lots of people dropping coins and jewelry. To search a beach you’ve GOT TO HAVE A SAND SCOOP. CKG Sand Scoops are heavy duty and able to be used as a shovel.
If it’s time up UP YOUR GAME and get the industry standard metal detector. The Minelab Equinox 800 IS THE BEST. Okay it’s not cheap, but your finds are going to increase with this machine. Shortcut links for reviews and current prices.
David Humphries, Writer and Creator of METAL DETECTING TIPS. After borrowing my son’s detector and finding $.25. I felt like a treasure hunter. FREE MONEY! I was seriously bitten by the metal detecting bug.
- Hidden Treasures. American History | Lost Treasure In The Old Spanish Treasure Cave. Youtube Video. 0:01. Posted By Hidden Treasures. March 20, 2021. American History | Lost Treasure in the Old Spanish Treasure Cave.
- State Park Links and State Park Metal Detecting Laws & Regulations. MDHTALK Metal Detecting State Law. https://www.mdhtalk.org/cf/city-regulation.cfm?st=AR.
- Ty Thompson. ‘saving History’: Local Relic Hunters Find Civil War Artifacts Across The River Valley. Times Record. March 22, 2021. https://www.swtimes.com/story/news/2021/05/22/local-relic-hunters-find-civil-war-artifacts-across-river-valley-metal-detecting/5029151001/.
- Sarah Kuta. Treasure Hunter Unearths 2.38-Carat ‘Frankenstone’ Diamond. Smithsonian Magazine. May 6, 2022. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/treasure-hunter-finds-2-carat-frankenstone-diamond-in-arkansas-180980040/.
- Lindsey Wells. Treasure Worth $50k Found In Arkansas. The Washington Times. August 20, 2017. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/aug/20/treasure-worth-50k-found-in-arkansas/.
- W.C. Jameson. Lost Treasures of Arkansas’s Waterways: Hidden Mines, Buried Fortunes, and Civil War Artifacts. USA: Plum Street Publishers, 2016. https://books.google.com.ph/books?id=GLEnDAAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=treasure+legends+arkansas&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiyx6bI4cD4AhWEJaYKHctzCiEQ6AF6BAgDEAI#v=onepage&q=treasure%20legends%20arkansas&f=false.
- W. C. Jameson. Buried Treasures of the Ozarks: Legends of Lost Gold, Hidden Silver, and Forgotten Caches. USA: August House, 1990. https://books.google.com.ph/books?id=PuNnUEayotsC&printsec=frontcover&dq=treasure+legends+arkansas&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiyx6bI4cD4AhWEJaYKHctzCiEQ6AF6BAgGEAI#v=onepage&q=treasure%20legends%20arkansas&f=false.
- Metal Detecting Louisiana, My Stories. Amazon. Accessed June 22, 2022. https://www.amazon.com/Metal-Detecting-Louisiana-My-Stories-ebook/dp/B00JM02JJE/ref=sr_1_4?crid=J5MUH0RZW703&keywords=metal+detecting+in+arkansas+books&qid=1655891922&sprefix=metal+detecting+in+arkansas+book%2Caps%2C275&sr=8-4.
- Let’s Go Metal Detecting: Everything you need to know to get out in the field this weekend. Amazon. Accessed June 22, 2022. https://www.amazon.com/Lets-Go-Metal-Detecting-Everything/dp/1083022261/ref=sr_1_9?crid=J5MUH0RZW703&keywords=metal+detecting+in+arkansas+books&qid=1655892093&sprefix=metal+detecting+in+arkansas+book%2Caps%2C275&sr=8-9.
- Lost Treasures of the Ozarks: Missouri – Arkansas (America’s Lost Treasures). Amazon. Accessed June 22, 2022. https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Treasures-Ozarks-Missouri-Arkansas/dp/1530981409/ref=sr_1_1?crid=TI6K8O7O7U4B&keywords=treasure+stories+arkansas&qid=1655892323&sprefix=treasure+stories+arkansa%2Caps%2C281&sr=8-1.