Geocaching in the Outdoors

Treasure hunters once searched for caches of gold, priceless artifacts, precious gems, and other valuables. Now that just about any kind of outdoor adventure can be planned and tracked via smartphone, many outdoor enthusiasts look for geocaches instead. You can spend your afternoons hunting for hidden trinkets, and all you need is a GPS.

While the term is relatively new, the concept is not. Geocaching has its roots in the 150-year-old game of letterboxing, in which people hid boxes containing small handwritten letters in outdoor locations.

Once exclusively a tool of the U.S. Military, Global Positioning Systems are essential to geocaching. The hobby officially began in 2000, when accurate GPS readings became available to the masses due to the military’s removal of Selective Availability, a program intended to limit non-military use of the system.

Once people had access to the technology and its incredible accuracy, it didn’t take long for them to begin concealing and hunting caches throughout the world. Geocaching originally required the purchase of an expensive handheld GPS unit, but now it can be done using a smartphone.

Location data for geocaching is readily available online, and caches can be found in nearly any area in the world. The easiest way to get started is to create a free account at Once you have an account, visit the “Hide & Seek a Cache” page, enter your postal code, and click “search.” Then, simply choose any geocache from the list, and enter the coordinates of the geocache into your device. After you find the hidden geocache, sign the online logbook and return the geocache to its original location, along with its new treasure.

One really cool aspect of geocaching is how it marries technology with the great outdoors. It’s every parent’s solution to getting their child out from in front of the TV. Plus, it can be a fun side activity to add to any outdoor adventure. Most importantly, geocaching is an inexpensive way to spend quality time in nature, alone or with others.