If you enjoy the idea of a modern day treasure hunt, you’ll love geocaching!
What is Geocaching?
Geocaching is an outdoor activity where you use a GPS to find hidden treasures (caches) that someone else has placed, and you can also set up your own caches for other people to find. There are varying difficulties of caches; some caches are large and easy to find, while micro caches are tiny and more difficult to find. Caches can be an ammunition box, a Tupperware container, or a small tube or film canister. When you first try geocaching, look for beginner caches – you’ll have a much higher success rate in finding the caches, and that means more fun!
How to Begin Geocaching
- To find caches in your area, visit the official geocaching website, Geocache.com, and register for a free account.
- Put in your zip code and a list will come up with caches in your area. When you find a cache that looks interesting, click the title for more information. The next page will have details on the terrain, the difficulty of the find, as well as notes from others who have already completed the cache. If this is your fist time, look for the caches labeled beginner. The most important thing you will find on the cache’s page are the coordinates for your GPS.
- Enter the coordinates into your GPS and drive to the cache site.
- When you find the cache, open it up and sign the log book. If it is a larger cache and contains trinkets, you may take a trinket out of the box, but must leave a different trinket in its place.
- Put the cache back just as you found it.
What to Bring:
- Because geocaching relies completely on GPS to find the caches, you will need a GPS. If you have a smartphone such as an iPhone or Android, you can download free apps.
- A pen or pencil for signing the cache’s logbook. Fine point Sharpies work well on damp log books.
- If you are hunting for larger caches that contain trinkets, bring trinkets to leave in place of the one you take from the box. You should always leave something equal to, or better than, the trinket that you take from the cache.
- A first aid kit.
- A flashlight. You might need it to shine down in dark places to find the cache.
- A trash bag. There is an acronym used among geocachers called CITO, and it stands for cache in, trash out. It is a reminder to clean up the environment as you search for the cache. If you see trash along the trail, clean it up.
- Spare batteries for your GPS.
- Gloves to reach into dark holes.
- A compass can be helpful if your GPS doesn’t have one.
- A walking stick.
- Pointed tweezers for pulling logs out of micro caches.
Tips for Geocaching:
- When trying to find the cache, look for anything that looks man made such as a pile of sticks that the cache may be hiding under or an unnatural looking pile of leaves. Look to see if the cache is hanging from a tree, or even under the ground. Some are hard to find and not always obvious.
- Keep an eye out for snakes and spiders that could be hiding around the cache.
- Don’t let non-geocachers see what you are doing. They are referred to as “mugglers” (or muggles) and may destroy or even steal the geocache.
- Make sure you understand all of the information presented on the individual geocache page – you’ll have greater success in finding your cache. Often times the tips given won’t make sense until you reach the location.
- Have information on more than one cache. In case you are not able to find the 1st cache, have another cache you can look for instead.
- When you are within 3 – 6 feet of the location, start looking for the cache – it may not be exactly at the coordinate.
- Either print out the cache’s webpage to bring with you, or bookmark it on your phone. You’ll most likely want access to the information when looking for the cache.
- Have fun!
Geocaching is just one of many fun outdoor activities you can do while camping with your family. If you would like more great ideas related to camping, outdoor activities, camping recipes, or just to talk to other people about camping, then come visit the new KOA Community that I am excited to be a part of. It is called Around the Campfire and I hope to see you there!
For More Information on Geocaching:
1. REI has a great selection of geocaching supplies!
2. Books on geocaching:
The Geocaching Handbook: The Guide for Family Friendly, High-Tech Treasure Hunting
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Geocaching
Geocaching For Dummies