An Introduction to Geocaching
Geocaching is one of the fastest growing outdoor activities throughout
the world. This page will try to quickly explain what geocaching
is, how geocaching got started, what gear is needed for geocaching,
and most importantly, how you can get started in this great adventure.
playing on the way to a cache.....
What is Geocaching?
In its simplest terms, geocaching is the game/sport of hiding things
(a cache) in a known location (geo) and then giving other people
the exact geographic coordinates so they can go and try to find
the hidden cache themselves.
As simple as geocaching sounds, it is only recently that the combination
of two very advanced technologies has made geocaching possible.
These technologies are the internet and the GPS (Global Positioning
System). More specifically, the internet allows people all over
the world to post the coordinates of their caches so they can easily
be searched and known by anyone else. Then, by programming those
coordinates into their GPSr, the next person can accurately seek
and find the hidden treasure.
Geocaching became feasible on 1st May 2000 when then US President
Bill Clinton announced that selective availability of the GPS system
would be turned off. Until then, GPS was only accurate to within
1000ft for everyone except the US military. With a flip of the switch,
selective availability was turned off and GPS instantly became accurate
to within 30ft or less for all GPS users. When this happened, a
man named Dave Ulmer realized the potential of this new accuracy
for a treasure hunt sport. The next day (2nd May 2000) he hid a
five gallon bucket containing several items in the woods near his
home and practiced finding it from several directions with his GPSr.
After convincing himself of the new accuracy of the GPS, he posted
the coordinates of his bucket on an internet USENET group and the
sport of geocaching was born.
From that point on, geocaching has grown to well over 200,000 caches
hidden in 200+ countries, and most likely one or more near you.
In addition, there are new variations of the game being started
frequently, some combine geocaching with orienteering, or using
traditional treasure hunt methods to find the numbers that make
up the final geocache coordinates, or.... on and on. Geocache sites
vary in difficulty ranging from sites you can reach with your car,
to sites that require mountaineering skills to reach. The difficulty
is determined by the person placing the geocache.
There have been very few official rules established for geocaching
but there are some guidelines that the geocaching community hold
in high regard. For example, if you take something from the cache
you should leave something else in the cache.
Some geocaches are themed; coins, yo-yos, or playing cards for
example. Some are just a collection of interesting stuff, and some
are only a logbook to enter your name. Another rule is that you
can not damage the environment or force people to violate trespassing
laws in order to reach the geocache. In fact many geocachers bring
a trash bag with them to remove any garbage found on their hunt.
So far, the sport has been well policed by its participants.
Items You Need to Start Geocaching
The two essential items are access to the internet and
a GPSr. Additionally, you should still carry a good map and a compass
if entering a remote area (you never know when those batteries will
die). Finally, if you are heading into the wilderness to find the
geocache, you should equip yourself the same as you would for any
other outdoor adventure.
As your interest in the sport grows, you can purchase mapping
software and upgraded GPSr units to better manage data and find
More Geocaching Information
If you want more information about geocaching, check
There you can learn more about the sport, or just enter your address
in thier search box to get a list of geocaches in your area. Print
out the info page, load the coordinates into your GPSr, and head
out on your first hunt.
(reproduced with thanks to