Geocaching in Arkansas

There are plenty of reasons to head into the wilderness: to be alone with our thoughts, to enjoy nature, to improve our health, to spend time with friends and family, or to learn more about the world. For a growing segment of our community, though, hitting the trails has a very specific purpose – finding treasure. Geocaching, to the people who love it, is “a free real-world outdoor treasure hunt.”

All you need is a GPS or smart phone and some comfortable walking shoes. According to the Geocaching.com website, there are 1,945,212 active geocaches and over 5 million geocachers around the globe.

A geocache is a treasure (loosely defined) that has been hidden and logged in on the official website. They can be found in urban areas as well as in the most remote wilderness. The only rule about placement involves trespassing: geocaches are not allowed on private property without express permission from the property owner.

Some caches are tiny – as small as a tic-tac box or film canister – while others might be found in ammo boxes. The treasure can be anything. The point is for the cachers to find the cache, take a little something out, and leave something in its place. Then they go online to log their find, and maybe leave a hint about finding the cache if there is a riddle involved.

If the person who created a cache is creative, they might set up a challenge with their cache. For example, one cache was found containing a little bottle opener keychain. The challenge was that it was supposed to be logged into a cache in each of the Canadian provinces, with a photo of the keychain being used in a local pub attached to each check-in online. Unfortunately, someone didn’t go online and read the challenge, and the keychain somehow made it to a cache just north of Kansas City, Missouri. Fortunately, another cacher picked it up and carried back to Nova Scotia to set it back on its tour of watering holes of the provinces.

Besides the challenges, there are also caches set up with riddles involved. Rather than just offering the gps coordinates and hints as to what the container looks like, they provide clues about the location as well. There might be a hollow log to peek into, or you could be told to look under a certain park bench along a walking trail.

Geocaching is a great family activity, exercising the mind and the body. It’s easy to convince kids to go for a walk when there’s a promise of a treasure included. Let them pick out a little something from their random toy drawer to trade, or some small treats like fancy pencils from the party supply store.

At times, a geocache might be “muggled,” or found by non-cachers and destroyed. When cachers are on the hunt, they take care not to bring too much attention to themselves as they look through the cache – even taking the contents away from the site to do the trade so as not to draw too much attention.  When a cache is searched for but not found, a note is posted to the website stating that it may have been muggled. Some folks may still try to find it in case it was just misplaced, but usually a muggled site is just abandoned.

The Arkansas State Parks system has created their own Geocaching program within their parks. Each of the 52 parks in the system has a cache, and there is a clue sheet that will get you started. There is also a permit required for placing your own cache, but you won’t need a permit to search for caches.

So next time you’re headed out for an afternoon, in town or out, check the geocaching website and see if there are any treasure hunts you might like to try. And let us know how it goes.

One Comment

  1. […] Geocaching is becoming quite a popular hobby. There are 2 million geocachers worldwide and many of them choose to store their caches in ammo cans. Again, it’s the durability and resistance to the elements that keep people choosing ammo cans. You can bury cans without worrying about moisture or decomposition. […]

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