Geocaching is an outdoor recreational activity in which participants use a GPS device and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called “geocaches,” at specific locations marked by coordinates all over the world.
Want to join in on the world’s largest treasure hunt? Here’s what you need to know.
How to get started
To begin, create an account online or through the Geocaching app to view a map of geocaches near you. After you build your account and explore info on the app, you’re ready to find your first geocache.
Navigate to your geocache using your GPS. Once you find it, you’ll see a logbook in the geocache’s container. Sign and date the logbook, and then place it and the geocache back into the container.
Once your day of geocaching is over, go back to the app and take notes on your experience. A big part of geocaching is the community; members are constantly communicating about the area’s geocaches through forums and share details with one another.
Tools you’ll need
The biggest part of geocaching is the navigation. You don’t need an elaborate GPS device to be successful, but if you prefer to not use your phone’s data, other options are handheld GPS’ and watches.
Other essentials to bring on geocaching trips include pens or pencils for recording info in the logbooks, water for hydration and a compass, whistle and flashlight for safety precautions.
Geocoins are also encouraged tools to use. They are special coins created by individuals or groups of geocachers that act as a “calling card.” Each geocoin is assigned a unique tracking ID that allows them to travel from geocache to geocache. Find out more here before you begin to collect or distribute them yourself.
Hidden containers storing geocaches can be found throughout NoVA parks and trails, as well as the entire state. Note that many local parks have approved lists of where geocaching is allowed. If you do not see a park on the approved list, written permission from the Park Authority needs to be given for geocaching activities to take place.
If you’re not sure where to go, the Northern Virginia Geocaching Organization is a great resource for those who want to get involved in the activity. The organization lists out geocaching events on its calendar throughout NoVA, and can help you find where to go for a geocaching trip.
It is recommended by the Geocaching app to find at least 20 geocaches before hiding your own. There are also guidelines to follow, as well as regional geocaching policies. You can submit a geocache to the app or website for review, and then a member of the global team of community volunteer reviewers will check it against the guidelines.
It’s also very important to receive permission from the landowner or land manager before hiding a geocache at a specific location. Other rules to remember about hiding geocaches are do not bury geocaches, do not damage property, do not harm the environment or animals, stay away from restricted areas and choose a waterproof container for storing the geocache.
For more tips and advice, visit geocaching.com.
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