Author’s Note: I first wrote about Geocaching for FresYes.com back in 2014 when I discovered the activity. It’s such a fun thing to do, especially when the weather is nice, and I still find that a great many people do not know about it, so since it’s been quite a few years, I thought it would be great to revisit the topic just in time for spring. Happy hunting!
Geocaching is a fantastic outdoor activity that is perfect for families and friend groups in the Fresno area to enjoy. Geocaching involves searching for caches: small, hidden objects hidden by other geocachers and logged onto apps using GPS, that can be found almost anywhere, in any city! It’s like a giant game of hot & cold, hidden object hide-and-seek.
Caches come in a variety of sizes and shapes and may contain various items, such as a log for you to sign or items you can take and trade for, by leaving an item in return (think small things like keychains, bouncy balls, a little trinket). Some caches even contain items that are considered “trackables,” (often a Geocaching branded coin with a number on it, so you can see where it’s traveled, and log where you found it – super fun to find!) which are meant to be moved from cache to cache, sometimes with an ultimate destination.
There are a number of different Geocaching apps available to get started with. My family and I personally enjoy using Groundspeak’s Geocaching App, which is one of the most popular, and has a robust database of caches, and user-friendly features. It does however, require a low-cost subscription for full use. (I will provide a list of the 9 most-popular apps for geocaching at the bottom of this article.)
When looking for caches, keep an eye out for items that blend into their surroundings well but might look just a tiny bit out of the ordinary. For example, I once found a small, round container with a black lid that looked like a period at the end of wording on a sign for a business, but there was no punctuation actually needed.
Caches are often stored in recycled or repurposed containers like old film canisters, medicine bottles with labels removed, old makeup containers, inside of a ball (I once found one in a tennis ball left at a park amongst other dog toys), or plastic containers with leaves attached to camouflage them. Caches stuck to to metal objects using magnets are very common, too, so definitely keep an eye out for those.
Geocaching is a great activity for teaching kids to think critically, and outside of the box. (It’s also a good practice for us adults to do the same!) You may need to move things around to find a cache, but in general, geocachers are respectful gamers, and you should never need to damage anything to access a cache. Always put caches back together how you found them, and if they need repair, add a note on the app you’re using so the original creator of the cache knows and can hopefully attend to it.
A few tips for before you get started:
- Be sure to bring a pen with you for caches with logs in them (the most common kind – you essentially sign the log so it shows you found it) and potentially a few small knick-knacks that you might want to trade for an item in a cache that allows you to take an item and leave an item.
- Familiarize yourself with common geocaching acronyms and terms, as each cache in apps with have a description, clues, and comments from prior finders. Knowing these terms will be helpful! (Examples: FTF – First to Find, TFTC – Thanks for the cache!) Here’s a fairly comprehensive list.
- Try not to reveal info about caches you find to others – you don’t want to spoil other people’s fun when they go hunting for them! (Which is also why my photos on this article are very limited – no spoilers!)
- It’s a good idea to go geocaching during daylight hours, but if you do choose to go at night, bring a flashlight and look at the areas you plan to put your hands into before you do so, as spiders can sometimes be lurking in cache hiding spots, and you don’t want to accidentally grab a black widow when you’re just trying to have fun!
- Geocaching is addictive! Once you get started, and find a few, you’ll want to find a few more, and just a few more, and maybe just one more… wear sunscreen and bring water and maybe some snacks – you might be out for longer than you expect! 😉
Geocaching is a very inexpensive or even free activity that can be done almost anywhere. In any given location, there could be as many as hundreds of caches within a mile of you, so it’s a great opportunity to explore not only your home town, but cities you visit, too.
Additionally, geocaching is a family-friendly treasure-hunting activity that allows you to be part of a worldwide “game” that has been going on for over a decade. Finally, it’s so fun to find caches that are very creatively hidden and the process trains you to think outside the box. So, grab your friends and family, and get started with geocaching today!
9 Popular Geocaching Apps/Services*
- Geocaching® by Groundspeak Inc. (iOS/Android) – https://www.geocaching.com/mobile/
- c:geo by c:geo team (Android) – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=cgeo.geocaching&hl=en_US&gl=US
- Looking4Cache Pro by Looking4Cache (iOS) – https://apps.apple.com/us/app/looking4cache-pro/id546463473
- Cachebot by Geooh (iOS/Android) – https://www.geooh.com/cachebot
- CacheSense by Fizzysoft (Android) – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.fizzysoft.geocaching&hl=en_US&gl=US
- GCDroid by BetterWays Solutions (Android) – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.gcdroid.pro&hl=en_US&gl=US
- Locus Map Pro – Outdoor GPS navigation and maps by Asamm Software, s. r. o. (Android) – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=menion.android.locus.pro&hl=en_US&gl=US
- iCaching by Team iCaching (macOS) – https://www.icaching.eu/
- Geosphere by Glen Gordon (iOS) – https://apps.apple.com/us/app/geosphere-for-geocaching/id324266350
*Note: Some of these apps may require a paid subscription or in-app purchases to access all of their features.
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