Whether you’re a seasoned geocacher or you’re new to the activity, you’ll be happy to know that, yep, geocaching is still a thing.
According to the folks at the official Geocaching headquarters, there are more than 3 million active geocaches located around the world. What’s more, there are geocaches located in more than 191 different countries worldwide, and there are even geocaches hidden in Antarctica.
All of this means that geocaching is certainly still a thing. So, if you’re looking to start geocaching again after a hiatus, we’re here to help reorient you to this time-honored pursuit.
Up next, we’ll walk you through how to start geocaching again and we’ll clue you into some of the latest updates in the geocaching world. That way, you can get outside, enjoy the mountains, and have fun in the process!
Haven’t Been Geocaching in A While?
If you haven’t geocached in a while, you might be wondering how you can get back into your groove in the wilderness. Luckily for you, we’ve got everything you need to know to get started right here.
In this section, we’ll discuss some of the most important things that you ought to know about geocaching so you can make the most of your adventures.
1. Gather Your Geocaching Tools
The easiest way to get started with geocaching is to get yourself a quality geocaching-enabled handheld GPS unit or a smartphone geocaching app.
These days, most of the hiking GPS units that you can buy, like the Garmin eTrex series, can support geocaching GPX files. This makes them the perfect multi-purpose tool for both general navigation and outdoor fun.
Or, if you’re looking to get started without a purpose-built GPS device, you can always download a geocaching app onto your phone. We’ll discuss the specifics of the best geocaching apps on the market in a bit. But, the general concept of geocaching is the same whether you’re using a phone or a GPS device.
2. Make A Geocaching Account
Once you have a GPS or geocaching app in hand, it’s time to start your official journey as a geocacher.
If you used to be an avid geocacher, there’s a high chance that you already have a geocaching account. For folks who don’t yet have an account, worry not—getting an account is fairly straightforward.
You’ll want to head on over to Geocaching.com and sign up for an account. Doing so will provide you with access to information about all of the world’s 3 million geocaches so that you can start your adventure.
3. Select A Geocaching Goal
As soon as you’ve logged into your geocaching account, you can start to select your first geocaching goal.
If you’re using a smartphone, you can search for nearby geocaches on your device. Once you have your target geocache in mind, you can hit the trails and start looking for your hidden treasure.
For folks that use GPS devices for geocaching, you’ll need to find and select a geocache goal online. Then, you can place all of your target geocaches into a GPX file that you transfer onto your GPS device using a USB cable.
4. Search For Your Geocache
With your geocache goal at the ready, you can use your phone or your GPS to navigate to the geocache.
We should mention, however, that you should always bring a pen with you when going geocaching. That’s because you’ll need something to write with to sign the geocache’s logbook when you find it. So, be sure to pack a pen before heading out the door.
Anyway, back to the fun stuff: Finding a geocache.
Now that you have your goal and your navigation device, you’ll want to start making your way toward the geocache. For the most part, you can use standard outdoor navigation skills to get yourself within about 20 to 30 feet (6 to 9 meters) of the cache itself.
However, once you get within that distance, you’ll want to put your device away and start searching using your hands and eyes to find its location.
Do note that some geocaches are very small and well hidden. If you need help finding a cache, you can check the geocaching website or app for more clues and hints about the cache’s location. There are now forums for each cache where you can ask questions and get hints from other geocachers to help you in your search.
5. Find A Geocache & Log Your Accomplishment
Hopefully, you’ll quickly stumble upon your first geocache, at which point, you can celebrate your accomplishment by signing and dating the cache’s logbook. you can also log your accomplishment online in the app or on the geocaching website to help you keep track of all of your found geocaches.
Keep in mind, however, that geocaches sometimes disappear from their original location.
If you truly think that you’ve searched everywhere to find a geocache only to come up empty-handed, you can make a note in the cache’s listing page to say that you couldn’t find the cache. That way, the geocache’s owner knows to search for their cache to see if it is, indeed, missing.
When you do successfully find a geocache, though, you can open it up, check out the contents, and then place it back in its original location before you head off on your next search.
Today’s Most Popular Geocaching App
As we’ve already mentioned, you can use a smartphone for your geocaching adventures. In fact, if you’re interested in keeping your geocaching experience as simple as can be, doing so using your phone can be a convenient way to geocache wherever life might take you.
To do so, you’ll need to get yourself a geocaching app. Although there are many different apps on the market today, the best app for geocaching is easily the game’s official app from Groundspeak, Inc.
However, if you want more features from the official Geocaching app, you’ll likely need to invest in the premium version.
For approximately $29.99 per year (as of the time of writing), you can get access to the premium version of the geocaching app. This provides you with access to more geocaches and offline mapping.
But, if you’re not sure that premium is right for your needs, you can get started with the free version and see if the extra premium features are worth the additional investment.
Create Your Own Cache
Interested in taking your geocaching to the next level? It might be time to make your own geocache!
Making your own geocache is a great way to explore new places and have more fun with your geocaching hobby. It’s also an awesome activity to do with kids as it’s a chance for them to get creative and give back to the geocaching community at the same time.
To make your own cache, you’ll do the following:
- Check Local Regulations. Before you place your first cache, be sure that you check any local rules and regulations to ensure that geocaching is legal in your area. If you are placing a cache on public land or private land that isn’t yours, contact the local land manager or owner to get written permission for your cache.
- Find A Suitable Location. Geocaches need to be placed at least 528 feet (161 meters) from other geocaches, so check the geocaching app or website to ensure that your cache location is appropriate. You’ll also want to ensure that your caching location is going to be accessible to the public over the long term.
- Get A Transparent & Waterproof Container. The best geocache containers are waterproof and transparent. That way, they are durable enough to handle harsh environments. Choosing a transparent container also makes it easier for others who don’t geocache to realize that the container isn’t dangerous. You should also label your container as a geocache to avoid confusion.
- Include A Logbook & Other Items. Each geocache should include a paper logbook so geocachers can record their finds. You can also include any small, family-friendly objects, like toys and other fun items inside your cache. Just be sure that you don’t include any food, scented items, illegal or dangerous items, or things that can melt in your container.
- Record & Upload Your Cache. Once you hide your cache, you can get accurate GPS coordinates for your container. Note your cache’s GPS coordinates and upload its location and other information to the geocaching website for review. Once your cache was approved, you’ll want to check up on it on a regular basis to ensure that it’s still in its original location.
For more detailed guidance on making your own cache, check out the official geocache hiding guidelines.
Geocaching Rules and Etiquette
If you’re going to start geocaching again, it’s important that you understand the rules and etiquette of the game. Since geocaching is a community experience, it’s vital that everyone is on the same page about what’s appropriate behavior when finding a cache. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Put The Cache Back Where You Found It. Geocaches are placed in a specific location for a reason, so place the cache back in its exact position before you leave.
- Only Take Items If You Can Replace Them. Some geocaches have items in there that you can take, but only do so if you can replace them with a new item of an equal or greater value.
- Always Sign The Log Book. Once you find a geocache, be sure to sign the logbook to record your find. Then, make a note of the cache’s condition on its listing page so that the cache owner can keep track of its whereabouts.
- Respect The Land & Wildlife. Geocaching is about having fun in the great outdoors. Whether you’re placing a cache or searching for one, make sure you respect local wildlife, ecosystems, and cultural sites in the process.
Enjoy Your Geocaching Adventure!
At this point, you have all the information you need to get outside and enjoy a fantastic geocaching adventure. Enjoy your geocaching journey, have fun, make friends, and get out in nature. We’ll see you out on the trail!
Up Next In Family Fun:
David is an accomplished mountain endurance athlete who has completed over 25 ultra marathon races (follow on Strava). He is most proud of his finish at The Drift 100 – a high elevation, 100 mile winter foot race that zigzags along the Continental Divide in Wyoming. In the future he hopes to compete in the ITI 350 and ultimately the full 1,000 mile Iditarod Trail Invitational that follows the same path as the historic dog sled race.