The Great Salt Plains State Park in Jet, Oklahoma is a beautiful natural area with unique features. These gorgeous salt plains were formed by the evaporation of what was once a wide saltwater lake. Now these beautiful white salt flats look like the surface of a distant planet.
One of the most popular activities at the Salt Plains is crystal digging, which is allowed in designated areas of the flats from April through October. Visitors are welcome to dig for selenite crystals which form naturally just below the ground in the salt flats. It feels very strange to take anything from a state park, but it's allowed and encouraged to do so.
To dig for crystals, bring a shovel or a trowel to dig in the soil, and some water for cleaning the crystals and loosening the salty soil around them. Some groups had other tools, like larger shovels to dig the initial hole or sun umbrellas to shade the diggers, but you can look for crystals without a lot of special equipment. You can find instructions for crystal digging from the State Park.
Selenite crystals are formed through the evaporation of seawater or other bodies of water that contain high levels of gypsum. So they occur naturally all over the salt fields, making this a fun treasure hunt for visitors. These selenite crystals are always special because how often are we able to just dig a hole and find crystals?!?! But the ones with a clear hourglass pattern are even more special, since this special pattern is only found in the Salt Plains in Oklahoma and in one spot in Russia.
Selenite itself isn't particularly rare, it's just the special hourglass pattern that makes it unusual. The formation of selenite crystals in Oklahoma is believed to have occurred during the Permian Period, when much of what is now Oklahoma was covered by a shallow saltwater sea. As this water evaporated, gypsum was left behind, and that eventually crystallized into selenite. The salt from that former sea is what makes today's salt flats.
These salt flats look like the surface of the moon, don't they? But they're are actually home to a variety of birds and insects. This is one of the reasons why digging for crystals in the designated areas is encouraged. The pools that form from crystal digging attracts insects, which in turn attract migratory birds.
Besides digging for crystals, visitors to the Salt Plains can also enjoy birdwatching, hiking, picnicking. and camping in the state park. There are several hiking trails in the park area, and lovely little cabins for an overnight visit.
The Salt Plains are a beautiful natural formation and digging for crystals is such an unusual activity! I'd encourage you to bring a lot of drinking water and sunscreen. I was pretty careful about sunscreen, but the salt reflects the sun, making it even easier to get a sunburn.
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