Why Your Family Should Go Geocaching Now

Geocaching is an activity where you locate a geocache using Global Positioning System or GPS.  A geocache is typically a small container hidden on public grounds that contain small trinkets and a log book.  Handheld GPS units or your smartphone can guide you to geocaches.

How Geocaching Works

Before smartphones hit the market a few years ago, geocaching became very popular among outdoor adventure seekers and families alike.  A handheld GPS device could be purchased and used to find virtually anything if you knew the GPS coordinates of what you’re looking for.

These GPS devices could accurately pinpoint coordinates within 10 feet or less.  You could obtain the GPS coordinates of a geocache’s location, plug them into your GPS, and start traveling until you’ve reached the destination.

A geocache is hidden in this photo. Can you spot it?

Sometimes once you arrived at your destination, you’d have to spend a few minutes actually finding the geocache.  A geocache could be cleverly hidden under logs, leaves, inside a tree, or any number of places that poses a challenge.  And yes, some caches are even in plain sight.

Once a cache is found, it is opened up to see what’s inside.  Sometimes people will exchange trinkets, placing theirs in the cache while taking one.  Caches also contain a log book, so if you find one, be sure to sign the log with your name and date.

Getting GPS Coordinates of Geocaches

Geocaches can be found all over.  Some are really difficult to get to while others are easy and require little walking.  There are several websites that have coordinates of geocaches.  The most popular website is geocaching.com.  There you can find hundreds of catches in the Four Rivers region.  Simply pick a few in an area you want to explore, write down the GPS coordinates and take off!

The log book from a geocache in Ivy Cemetery in Calloway County.
The log book from a geocache in Ivy Cemetery in Calloway County.

Some people plug the coordinates in their devices and let the devices guide them to the location.  Others choose to watch their device and try to figure out the best way to get there.  Again, in some cases you could drive right up to a geocache.  In others, you’ll have to walk – perhaps a few minutes or even a few miles, depending on what you want to experience.

The good thing is you can choose to go after the easy ones or hard ones.  Geocaching.com makes it simple to figure out what’s easy and what’s not.

GPS Devices

There is a good chance your smartphone is GPS-enabled.  You can download apps free of charge and start exploring.  Geocaching.com has an app that is popular but some of its features are fee-based.  There is an Android-based app called c:geo that is free and is quite popular among geocaching enthusiasts.

For the truly geeky people who prefer a handheld GPS device or those who don’t have a smartphone, there are several products available for purchase.  One is the Garmin eTrex 10, an affordable handheld GPS unit that will get the job done.  They are available on Amazon for under $100.

Geocaching Is Fun For Kids – Especially In The Fall

Kids see geocaching as a treasure hunt.  Your family can spend the day searching for treasure.  Kids can also be taught the valuable lesson of giving by leaving behind some trinkets that have sentimental meaning.  For example, the cache pictured in this article contains a sticker of SpongeBob SquarePants.  Kids could leave behind some stickers of their favorite cartoon character for other kids to enjoy.

This geocache located in Ivy Cemetery in Calloway County contains trinkets, business cards and a log book.

Geocaching gets kids outside while messing with their smartphones.  It’s somewhat like the Pokemon Go craze that took the world by storm this past summer.  Except with geocaching, families can use their phones to find real items that they can take with them while leaving something behind for others to enjoy.

Now is a great time of the year for geocaching.  November brings beautiful fall foliage, fewer bugs and less vegetation to trample through if you’re in the woods.  It’s especially great after the first freeze of the year, which means fewer (if any) ticks and mosquitoes.

Let’s go geocaching!  To get started, get a GPS device or download an app to your GPS-enabled smartphone.  Check out geocaching.com for great caches in our area.  Land Between The Lakes and other public places are full of them!  Gather up some trinkets to leave behind.  Then head out for a day of fun-filled treasure hunting the entire family will enjoy.

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