photo by Patricia Hofmeester

Geocache searches range in difficulty from preschooler-friendly to Indiana Jones–level expeditions

By Haley Gray

Players across the globe use GPS coordinates to hunt for (usually) small, mundane objects hidden in unlikely places. They don’t know what the geocache is before they get there, and beyond its GPS coordinates—a string of numbers and letters—they don’t know what the location is, either.

photo by Lasse Hendriks
photo by Lasse Hendriks

A geocache could be a plastic toy tucked between the branches of a tree like any other in a national forest, a tiny capsule dangling from a sidewalk grate in New York City, or a fake rock with a secret compartment, discreetly placed near a historical landmark. Often, the prize isn’t an object at all, but merely the chance to add your name to a log of those who’ve managed to find that geocache.

Geocaching is mobile phone- or GPS device-based, and searches range in difficulty from preschooler-friendly to Indiana Jones–level expeditions. Players savor the hunt as a means to explore corners of the world they might not find themselves in for any other reason. State and national parks are dotted with hidden geocaches—in fact, sometimes they’re even highlighted on the park’s official website. Advanced hikers can use geocaching to take advantage of fall’s cool weather, and parents can get kids excited about a family outing by making it into a treasure hunt.

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