Geocaching is a type of treasure hunt using a GPS unit or an app on your smartphone to help you find hidden "caches" placed by people all over the world. Geocaches are everywhere - from just down the street to the most remote wilderness areas. They range from extremely small containers (35-mm film canister or smaller) to large ammo-style boxes and can contain many different things, including a log book to sign your name, tradable items for kids and adults, and more!
Don't know how to geocache but would like to try it out? We have special workshops hosted at our State parks to introduce you to this activity. Check out geocache events on our Calendar.
Geocaching is the hunt for any of more than 3 million items worldwide that have been purposely hidden by geocachers just like you. The game, when played responsibly, has been embraced by Texas State Parks and Natural Areas because of the fun and health benefits the sport creates for its players. Geocaching is primarily based through the website geocaching.com and is free to participate in! Simply create a user name or "cache handle" and you will be on your way!
This "treasure hunt" takes its participants to a fun, creative, or beautiful hiding place in the outdoors to search for items of all different sizes and difficulty. Along the way, be sure to enjoy your travels, explore the contents of each container you find, and return back to geocaching.com to log your visit and tell the world about your adventure.
You might be wondering what is a Geocache? In its simplest terms "Geo" means earth, and "Cache" means hidden item. Most geocaches are camouflaged containers that range in size. Geocaches are never buried, so please leave your shovels at home!
How to Play
- Visit Geocaching.com, or use a smartphone app, and find caches where you are.
- For your first geocache adventure, choose an easy cache based on the difficulty, size, and terrain ratings.
- When you've found a geocache that suites your trip and group, download the coordinates to your GPS or begin navigating on your Smartphone.
- When you arrive at a cache, approach it safely. Some of the best hiding locations are also homes for wildlife. It might take a few minutes to find the cache if it is hidden well!
- Open the container, sign the log, and trade a family friendly item with the "swag" that is already in the cache.
- Replace the container exactly how you found it and return back to geocaching.com to log your find and tell the world of your adventure! You will begin to collect "smiley" face symbols that signify your number of finds over the course of your lifetime.
- Watch a video from geocaching.com to learn more!
- Download guidelines for hiding a geocache on a TPWD property.
What to Bring:
- GPS or smartphone with coordinates
- Pen or pencil
- Water bottle
- Hat, footwear appropriate for a hike, and rain gear, if needed - Plan ahead and check the weather!
- Sunscreen and insect repellent
- Park, or trail, map
- Inexpensive small items to trade for cache "swag"
- A sense of adventure!
How can I Leave No Trace During My Visit?
- Do the responsible and safe thing and stay on the trails for as long as possible.
- Leave what you find including those pretty wildflowers, unique rocks, and artifacts!
- Being considerate of others by not parking in campsites and keeping voices low.
- Trash your trash and consider CITO - "Cache in Trash Out" to help keep our spaces beautiful.
- Respecting wildlife, you're in their backyard!
Glossary of Terms
- Size: On Geocaching.com the size of the geocache is posted so you know what you are looking for.
- Terrain: A rating of a 1 star indicates that the geocache is considered to be accessible by wheelchair. A geocache with a terrain rating of 5 stars will require some special equipment (boat, 4WD, etc) to find the container.
- Difficulty: A difficulty level of 1 star will indicate that the cache should be found very quickly. A 5 star cache is a big endeavor requiring toughness to find or open the container.
- FTF = First to Find, or the first person to find a geocache after it has originally been hidden.
- TFTC = Thanks for the cache, or an abbreviation of thanks to the original hider of the cache.
- Ground Zero or GZ = The area where the cache is supposed to be located.
- TNLN = Took Nothing Left Nothing, meaning that the finder did not participate in trading of swag.
- SL = Signed Log
- Muggles = Someone not familiar with geocaching. Avoid muggles while geocaching, to ensure that caches stay put and are not vandalized or "muggled".
- Geocoin, Travelbug, or Pathtag = These items add flavor to the swag that can be traded. Using identification numbers these items can be shared with friends and "tracked" as they are carried and logged from one cache to the next.
How can I learn more? Geocachers love their hobby and love getting others involved. Look for online resources like message boards, community geocache associations, and Facebook groups dedicated to the game. More information on geocaching can be found by browsing the “Learn” section on geocaching.com. If you are still in need of assistance, check the TPWD events calendar for Geocaching 101 workshops where we will introduce you to the game. Sign up for TPWD e-mail updates about geocaching.