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Tread Lightly!

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Geocaching: A New Way to Explore the Great Outdoors

No matter your age or fitness, geocaching is great way to experience nature. Now, what exactly is geocaching? Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure-hunting activity using GPS-enabled devices, like your smartphone or other smart device. Like a pirate seeking treasure, you will navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates in an attempt to find a geocache — a container that comes in various shapes and sizes — hidden at a given location. There are more than 2 million official geocaches hidden around the globe.

How is the game played?

Geocaching is fun and easy. At the simplest level, it requires these eight steps:

  1. Basic Membership.
  2. Visit the: Hide and Seek a Cache page.
  3. Enter your postal code and hit “Search.”
  4. Choose any geocache from the list and click on its name.
  5. Enter the coordinates of the geocache into your GPS device.
  6. Use your device to assist you in finding the hidden geocaches.
  7. Sign the logbook and return the geocache to its original location.
  8. Share your geocaching stories and photos online.

What are the rules of geocaching?

  • If you take something from the geocache, you have to leave something of equal or greater value.
  • Write about your cache in the logbook.
  • Log your experience at geocaching.com

Finding geocaches

Geocaches can come in various shapes and sizes, ranging from tin boxes, to film containers, to fake rocks with secret compartments. So how do you find one?

The first step is to get a general idea of the geocache’s size. Sizes can be found on each cache page. A general overview of size is represented by a graphic, so please note that these are just examples.


Here are examples of potential geocache appearances:

geocachingPhoto by geocaching.

Geocaching is also a unique way to explore our national parks and forests. While the National Park Service does not allow for the placement of foreign objects in the park, they do sanction “earthcaching” or “virtual caching,” directing park-goers to unique natural features or commemorative plaques within the park. Parks like Yellowstoneand Petrified Forest offer their own unique caching programs. Check out this list to find a national park or forest near you to get you started on your geocaching adventures. Reminder: Stay on trails to avoid widening them!

Geocaching is a fun for all ages. It’s an activity that can be done both by yourself or with friends. It’s a game that encourages wonder and adventure, an calling to spend time outside and find treasures. At the same time, it’s our responsibility to respect our environment so that generations to come can experience it as well. At Tread Lightly!, our mission is just that. If you’d like to learn more about us, visit our page and consider donating today.

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