Digging crystals at Great Salt Plains

Posted: January 31, 2020 in Uncategorized

Last Saturday, while traveling I stopped off at the Great Salt Plains in northwest Oklahoma, one of the weirdest landmarks in the state.

If you are traveling down State Highway 64 between the tiny towns of Jet and Cherokee, you’ll notice signs advertising crystal digging at the Great Salt Plains.

I decided to make a detour to check it out.

When you first approach the crystal digging area on the west end of the Great Salt Plains, it looks like white water, as if it is choppy from a very windy day. It wasn’t until I’d pulled up to the entrance to the crystal digging area that I realized that it was a dry lake bed.

From the picture, you can see that there is a designated driving area. This is also the designated digging area. Visitors are not allowed to stray past the fence line, for fear of depleting the slowly replenishing crystal bed.

The science behind what is going on here is pretty cool. Millions of years ago, this part of Oklahoma was repeatedly flooded with sea water and then cut off. The water evaporated away, leaving behind a thick layer of salt. Today, the brine formed by the salt, minerals in the soil, and water just below the surface, combine to create unique crystal types that are not known to be found naturally anywhere else in the world.

The hourglass design is so unique, that the Great Salt Plains crystals are the official crystal of Oklahoma.

State Crystal of Oklahoma

A few years ago, Alfalfa County (where Great Salt Plains is located) put out a series of videos in an attempt to attract tourism. Here is a useful, if cheesy, one on what you need to dig up the crystals.

Unfortunately, when I visited the site this past weekend, it was closed for the winter. If I ever make it that way again during the digging season (April 1 - October 15), I’ll be sure and post pictures of any crystals I find.

  1. Matthew says:

    We were just talking about this at work yesterday. I really need to go there sometime this next year.

  2. […] “from outside negativity,” or aligning my spinal column (flexibility), but if you read my post on selenite crystals from the Great Salt Plains, you’ll know that these things are pretty cool on their own. […]

  3. Susan Schulte says:

    when I was a child, my father took me to dig for salt crystals near the Salt Lake in Oklahoma. They looked exactly like the single crystals shown in the photos. We did not have to dig very deep. That was about 45 yrs ago. I was about 10-12 and thought it was pretty awesome. I was told that was a place Indians came for their salt in the olden days (before my youth)…. but I do not know if that is true.

  4. Pam Hargrove says:

    I hope we get to come on the 2nd day of September about a week and a half away. This will be my Birthday. I have always wanted to go there since I first learned it was here in Oklahoma. I will need to give you my husbands Email since I do not have an Email address.

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