Geocaching 101

Geocaching 101

I’m sure you are thinking “what the heck is geocaching?”

Geocaching is a modern-day treasure hunt, only the treasure map is your smartphone or GPS and the treasure is a box of dollar store trinkets.Well, I always describe it as a modern-day treasure hunt, only the treasure map is your smartphone or GPS and the treasure is a box of dollar store trinkets.

There are nearly 6 million geocachers and over 2.6 million active geocaches worldwide—there are probably caches near you right now.

What is a cache?

Literally a cache is “a collection of items of the same type stored in a hidden or inaccessible place.”

In geocaching, a cache is simply a container that geocachers hide and find using GPS coordinates… caches come in all different shapes and sizes–anywhere from micro-sized, where there is just enough space for a very small log (a piece of paper to sign when you find the cache) to large ammo cans filled with SWAG for you to swap. Some caching containers are tricky because they look like ordinary items you would find outside.

two caches

There are different kinds of geocaches too. Sometimes you have to solve a puzzle, or you have to find two or three sections before you get to the end.

My wonderful friend Amy introduced me to geocaching when she and her family were driving to Philly from Texas and stopped in Huntsville for a short visit. You see, Amy and I have been friends for several years–we met through work–but we had never actually met face-to-face! So when she found out that she would be in the “general area” we planned a meeting.

I have five girls and Amy has two boys and a girl, ages ranging from 7 to 16, so we needed to find something that everyone would enjoy. Amy and her family have been geocaching for years so when she suggested we find a few, I said “That sounds like a great idea!”

Geocaching on Monte SanoOur first geocache was on Monte Sano Mountain just a couple of miles from our home (at the time). She picked a cache that wasn’t too difficult and had treasure for the kids. The trek was a little steep on the way down to the cache and again on the way back up, plus we passed by a lot of poison ivy, but my kids loved every minute of it. They had so much fun finding the ammo can and then trading their trinkets.

Geocaching 101

Getting Started

The only thing you REALLY need to go geocaching is a smartphone (or a GPS unit) plus the coordinates to a cache. But this list of items can make your caching experience a lot better!

The first thing you need to do is sign up for a free account on geocaching.com and download their app to your smartphone.

geocaching appThen log into your account on your phone, type in your zip code to pull up a list of geocaches around you, and choose the one you want to find. The description will tell you where to park, good places to start your trek and give you clues to locate the cache.

Be sure to pay attention to the difficulty, terrain and size of the cache. You don’t want to take a 5 year old on a extremely difficult geocache, up a steep, rocky terrain, to a cache that does not product SWAG, unless you want to end of carrying your child on your back and risk an epic meltdown in the process.

Finally, once you’ve picked out your destination, drive to the recommended parking area, hop out of your car and start walking! Once you hit the “Navigate to Geocache” button, you will find a map/compass that points you in the direction of the geocache. When you are within a few feet of the coordinates put down your phone and start searching the area for the cache.

What to do when you find the cache?

Found it!

Found it!

  1. Check out the SWAG–take one, leave one (for the larger caches)
  2. Sign and date the log
  3. Place everything back into the container
  4. Replace the lid
  5. Return the cache to its original location
  6. Report the cache as “found” on your smartphone app

It really is that simple…

After just one cache we were hooked! We have been on many adventures in places we never would have found if it weren’t for geocaching. It’s one of the few activities we do as a family that everyone loves and is happy to participate in.

Caching is a lot of fun and a great activity for all ages and abilities. It’s something that you can do without spending a lot of money and you don’t need to have any special skills (well with some caches you do).

Since we started geocaching we have converted several families into hardcore cachers. Give it a try and see what you think! I’m sure happy we did.

Comments 22

    1. Post
      Author

      It really is! I was resistant at first, didn't think we would like it, but it's an awesome activity. The kids get out of the house, we spend time together NOT bickering (usually) and everyone gets some exercise. Win Win Win! You have to try it!!

  1. My kids would LOVE to go Geocaching! I need to remind my husband to take them before Summer is over. This is such a great explanation of it.

  2. Okay, I never really knew what this was about until now! Sounds very interesting and fun. So, other people already have the treasure set up somewhere and you can just go find it? Sounds so neat!!

    Shop with Me Mama (Kim)

  3. That sounds like a fun summer activity to do outdoors with your kids! We'll have to try it when they get old enough!

  4. You know what? Just yesterday I was read about a friend doing this and wanted to learn more. So glad I found your blog post. You explain it really well and now I can't wait to try it out.

    1. Post
      Author

      At first it does seem more complicated than it is! We have the most fun going as a family. Usually I plan out a few spots, we take a picnic and have a fun afternoon.

  5. This sounds so fun and I'm checking it out. I'd love to do this with my prince. I heard something about it but this explained it perfectly! Excited to go on our first hunt

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