Geocaching: Outdoor Navigation with GPS Devices

Geocaching in the desert
Geocaching in the desert

If you haven’t tried geocaching yet, you’re missing out!

What is Geocaching?

Geocaching is an exciting, very low cost sport. It is essentially outdoor navigation with GPS devices, and the goal to is find a cache, or treasure. Low cost sports are always nice, especially when they are great ways to have fun with your family outdoors!

The most basic definition of geocaching is a sophisticated scavenger hunt. Geocachers use a GPS device to find “caches” that were hidden by other geocachers. The “caches” are small tupperware or other waterproof durable containers that are filled with trinkets. Nothing expensive, just something fun to find!

History of Geocaching

Prior to 2000, consumer GPS’ had a feature called Selective Availability, meaning that there were intentional errors in measurements. The range of errors was small (a couple hundred feet), but definitely enough to make GPS devices useless for the sport of geocaching. It was intended to prevent terrorists/enemies of the U.S. from using consumer GPS’ for malicious purposes. The feature is now disabled, so now the GPS data is actually accurate and so the sport of geocaching was born!

How to Geocache

Using a GPS to find a geocache
Using a GPS to find a geocache, Photo courtesy Flickr: stickair

The person depositing the loot (the “cache”) makes a note of the coordinates on a geocaching website. Then you can get those coordinates, and armed with a GPS device you can head out on your adventure! Once you discover the cache, the proper etiquette is that you can take an object, as long as you replace it with one of equal or higher value. Don’t be the one who makes a kid cry by taking the cache without replacing it!

There are a variety of geocaches, ranging from quick finds to multi-day mystery hikes. With almost 1 million of these caches around the world currently, you’re sure to have some fun trying to find some! Be forewarned: it can get addicting.

All of you hikers and backpackers out there will enjoy geocaching, as will those who like to solve puzzles.

Because it is so affordable, it is a perfect alternative to expensive family activities like a day at a theme park or even the movies! All you need is a GPS device. Plus, it is fantastic exercise.

If you’re looking for some weekend adventure give it a try. Lace up your hiking boots and get geocaching!

What You Need to Get Started Geocaching?

Garmin GPS 60CSxGarmin GPS 60CSx: The Garmin GPS 60CSx is a good, all around GPS for hikers and geocachers. It has a very large display for its size, and it waterproof and easy to read. Is has more functionality than a very basic GPS device, but isn’t it nice to have an alarm clock and sunrise and sunset information? This one has 28 hours of battery life, which is great for those of us who like to go on multi-day outdoor adventures.



The Complete Idiot's Guide to GeocachingThe Complete Idiot’s Guide to Geocaching: This book has 320 pages full of everything you need to know about geocaching. There aren’t that many books on the market yet about geocaching, and this one is very comprehensive.



Want to know more about outdoor GPS units?   What is the best GPS for geocaching?


  1. geocaching says:

    Malakoff Diggins is a California State Historical Park that was a hydraulic mining site during the California Gold Rush in the late 1880’s. Today, Malakoff Diggins offers 20 miles of hiking trails as well as camping at the Chute campground.

  2. Marty says:

    i would love to begin this sport but even with my glasses reading screen is too difficult – they need to increase the size like that of a car GPS

  3. Hiking Lady says:

    Thanks, Kim! Yep I agree 🙂
    I just stopped by your post about geocaching… sounds like you are really an avid cacher! I shared it with my facebook friends.
    Have fun out there!

  4. Kim says:

    I’m A big fan of geocaching and I’ve been caching for 2 1/2 years and have found almost 1700 caches. It’s a great way to get outside and spend time either alone or with friends and family. Geocaching takes us to lots of places that we would never have heard of otherwise. And in these hard economic times, it’s a very affordable thing to do. Please stop by my blog which is primarily about geocaching and find out about caches, travel bugs and the cool places we go.
    Please stop by and be sure to say hello!

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