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Guide to Creating and Hiding a Cache

So you want to hide a geocache? Great! Read on. If you're just learning about Geocaching, check out the FAQ.

Step 1 - Research a cache location

Geocaching is just like real estate - location, location, location! When thinking about where to place a cache, keep these things in mind:

You are ultimately responsible for the cache so make sure you know the rules for the area where your cache is being placed.

Ultimately you'll want to place a cache in a place that is unique in some way. The big reward for geocachers, other than finding the cache itself, is the location. A prime camping spot, great viewpoint, unusual location, etc. are all good places to hide a cache.

Note: Please be respectful of the areas you are thinking about placing the cache. For example, if it's the location of the spotted owl, or off-trail with delicate ground cover, keep in mind that others will be walking in these areas.

Please do not place caches on archaeological or historical sites. In most cases these areas are highly sensitive to the extra traffic that would be caused by vehicles and humans.  If you find a cache in one of these areas please remove it and replace it a safe enough distance from the site to ensure that the site will not be impacted by people searching for the cache and unknowingly traveling over or through a site.

Step 2 - Preparing Your Cache

First, you need a container. Anything water resistant, snow resistant, etc (depending on your climate), will do, but geocachers have had good success with plastic buckets, tupperware (or rubbermaid) containers, ammo boxes, or unused sewer pipes (really!). You'll also want to invest in some zip-loc baggies to put the items into in case your container leaks.

Whatever the container, make sure to mark your cache so that someone who doesn't play can figure out what it is. Most folks mark the container with, the name of the cache, and any contact information they feel is necessary. More info is better than less.

Next, you'll need a logbook and a pen. A small spiral notebook does the trick. Make sure to put a pen in the cache as well! The author always forgets to bring one when searching for a cache.

(11/20 note: If you are an an area where the temperature dips below freezing, make sure to bring a soft lead pencil to place in the cache. Pens tend to freeze and are rendered useless :)

It's also recommended to have a note to welcome the cache finder and let them know what it is all about (if they accidentally found the cache). There is a letter you can use in both Microsoft Word format and Text format.

Lastly, you can put goodies in the cache. It's recommended, but not necessary! Some ideas of items to give as gifts:

It's up to you what you want to put in your cache, budget permitting. If you are a Dot com millionaire, I would hope you would pony up a bit of cache (err cash), but most of us can spend less than $10 to place a decent cache.

Do not put food in a cache! Critters have better noses than we do, and will bite, nibble or swallow your cache in an attempt to get to the goodies. Bottled water is a good alternative (and refreshing to geocachers).

Please! No alcohol, tobacco, firearms, prescription or illicit drugs. Let's keep this safe and legal.

Step 3 - Placing Your Cache

When you reach the location to place your cache, the hardest part (depending on the model of your GPS unit, the terrain, etc), is getting exact coordinates from your GPS unit. It all depends on how visible your cache is, but you'll need to get the coordinates as close as possible to the cache.

Some GPS units have the ability to do averaging, but if yours can't, the best suggestion is to take a waypoint, walk away from the location, then return and take another waypoint. Do this around 7-10 times, then pick the best waypoint (I've done this with a Garmin eTrex on a cache)

Once you have your waypoint, write it in permanent marker on the container, the log book, and make sure you have a copy to bring back with you. Write a few notes in the log book if you like, place it in a zip-loc baggie, and place it in the container. Make sure to secure the container with a rock, etc, to decrease the chance of it blowing, floating, or being carried away.

Please do not bury the container unless you have express permission of the landowner or manager. If the cache is far enough away from trafficked areas, your cache should be fine. An exception would be covering the cache with dead branches, bark, etc. to conceal the container.

Step 4 - Report the Cache

Either fill out the online form, or Send e-mail to The form is a much faster way to get your cache report published.

If you use email, please provide the coordinates in WGS84 format and let us know a) the difficulty (1-5, 5 being the hardest) and terrain rating (1-5, 5 using climbing gear), b) a nickname for the cache, and c) your contact info. If you're creating a web site for the cache, let us know and we'll add it to the page.

If you're a member of the geocaching mailing list, feel free to send it there as well. Most (if not all) of the geocaching sites read the list.

Step 5 - Maintain the cache

Once you place the cache, it is your responsibility to maintain the cache and the area around it. You'll need to return as often as you can to ensure that your cache is not impacting the area, and ensure that the cache is in good repair. Once people have visited the cache, inquire about the cache and their opinion of the location. Does the area look disturbed? Are visitors disrupting the landscape in any way? If you have concerns about the location, feel free to move or remove it from the area.

Happy geocaching!

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