Geocaching is a techno-treasure hunt!
Geocaching (pronounced "geo-cashing") is an outdoor treasure hunt using hand-held Global Positioning System (GPS) units. The geocachers hide and seek "treasures," which are found in waterproof containers and typically include a pencil, small notebook to serve as a logbook for finders and several trinkets like key chains, small toys and buttons. Geocaches can range in size from a small film canister to bigger than a five-gallon bucket.
Geocachers hide the geocache and enter coordinates (latitude and longitude) on a website. Others download the coordinates, enter them into a GPS unit and hunt for the geocache.
Once the cache is found, the finders enter their names and date into the cache logbook. The finders can then take an object from the cache while leaving something of equal or higher value. The finders replace the geocache in the same place where they found it for future geocachers to find.
Geocaching is popular all across the state, particularly in South Dakota's State Parks including Adams Homestead & Nature Preserve at North Sioux City, Lewis & Clark Recreation Area at Yankton, Palisades State Park at Garretson as well as The Outdoor Campus in Sioux Falls. These parks also offer some hands-on learning opportunities. Caches are listed on www.gfp.sd.gov/geocaching/.
South Dakota’s Geocaching Trail, 188 geocaches arranged across farm country to spell out the word GEOCACHING in letters four miles high by 30 miles wide, is located in southeastern South Dakota, roughly between the towns of Freeman, Menno, Parker and Viborg. The shortest possible distance to drive the entire trail is 180 miles, so make sure you have a full tank of gas before hitting the road. To find these and other caches throughout the region and for more in depth how-to information, go to www.geocaching.com.
There are many types of geocaching. If you are a beginner, starting off with the traditional type described above is a good idea. Afterwards, you may progress to more complex types of geocaching. A multi-cache involves finding two or more locations. Most have a hint to find the second cache, and the second cache has a hint to the third, and so on. A mystery or puzzle cache may involve complicated puzzles that you will first need to solve to determine the coordinates. An Earth-Cache is a little more difficult. You have to identify some geologic feature, have your picture taken with it and then post the picture online.
Geocaching is an outdoor adventure the whole family can enjoy together.