The recreational activity of hunting for and finding a hidden object by means of GPS coordinates posted on a website.
Geocaching, or an outdoor, real-world treasure hunting game utilizing GPS devices, is played all over the world by all walks of people. The game involves going to the location set and attempting to find the “treasure” (usually a container hidden at that location).
Before May 2, 2000, the GPS technology was only used for national security reasons and was not available to the public. On May 2, 2000, twenty-four satellites around the globe received a technology upgrade and “Selective Availability” was removed, allowing the general public to utilize the benefits of GPS technology.
Geocaching was born from the testing of this new GPS technology, as Dave Ulmer, a computer consultant from Beavercreek, Oregon, wanted to test the technology’s accuracy. He hid a target in the woods, noted the coordinates with a GPS unit, posted the target information and GPS coordinates on the Internet, and hoped someone could find it. Within three days, several people read about his stash and found his container. They, in turn, posted their experience and began hiding other caches, posting the coordinates online, and so Geocaching was born. For a full history of the birth of geocaching, click here.
The www.geocaching.com website is a great way to learn the game, learn the rules, set up an account, and start searching for treasure. The main rule of geocaching is simple: If you take something from the geocache (or “cache”), you must leave something of equal or greater value.
Lake Havasu City and the surrounding areas have many geocaches ready to be found! While there is no local geocaching group to join, the geocaching community nationwide is available online to help out anyone who needs it. Additionally, every March, Arizona State Parks hosts a Geocache Desert Bash, a geocache treasure hunt that normally boasts over 20 geocache sites along the desert trails and Lake Havasu shoreline, as well as several geocache sites dedicated to those wheelchair-bound or with physical disabilities.
Geocaching has evolved into a world-wide phenomenon, and one of the benefits of geocaching is experiencing new outdoor places you’ve never been to before!
Photo credits: Bonnie Butterworth, Geocaching.com