Geocaching is one of the fastest growing outdoor activities for people of all ages. It’s one of our favorite fun things to do as a family – geocaching with a smartphone is a real-life treasure hunt that combines technology with adventure!
There are more than 2 million geocaches (containers) hidden around the world. You can find them just about anywhere. Some are much easier to find than others. Beginners should stick to the Easy level caches and gradually increase the difficulty with practice.
My family is just getting into the thrill of geocaching together. We search for local geocaches and find them using a geocaching app that I downloaded to my smartphone. A geocaching app uses the GPS in your phone to locate geocaches and guide you to them. We have found geocaches hidden in local parks and even in someone’s front yard!
It’s important to have reliable wireless coverage when you are out searching for your treasure. I use Verizon because they have the largest 4G LTE network available in more than 500 cities that covers 95% of the US population.
How to Go Geocaching with a Smartphone
What you need:
- A GPS-enabled mobile device (smartphone) with a Geocaching App downloaded to it.
- A free Geocaching.com user account. Visit Geocaching.com to create your user account.
There are several geocaching apps out there. I have tried a couple of them and found that the free C:GEO app works great with my Android smartphone. This app is also available for the iPhone. If you have a Windows device like the Nokia Lumia Icon, try the free Geocaching Live app. For purposes of this blog post, I will show you how I use the C:GEO app to find geocaches.
Step One: Open the C:GEO app and log in with your Geocaching.com user account information. Click “Open Website” to be taken to Geocaching.com
Step Two: You’ll see an image that says “How to Go Geocaching”. Enter your zip code in the search box under the number “1” to Search for Nearby Geocaches. Or click Find my location.
Step Three: Choose a geocache from the listings and click on it. Beginner geocaches are highlighted in green. Your phone should prompt you to open the listing with the C:GEO geocaching app.
Step Four: Once your selected geocache is open on C:GEO, you see the “Details” screen that includes information like GPS Coordinates, Distance, and Difficulty. You can also click on “Description” to see a little bit more about the particular cache and hints on how to find it. At the bottom, you can also scroll to the right side of the screen for more options. Click on “Logbook” to read feedback about this cache. Click on “Images” to see photos of the cache location.
Click on the Map image to pull up the “Navigate” screen. Several options will be listed, such as: Navigation (Driving), Navigation (Walking), Compass, and Map.
Since we are keeping this simple, let’s click on Navigation (Driving).
Step Five: Your phone should open to the navigation map and take you turn-by-turn to the geocache’s approximate location. It’s just like using your phone’s GPS to take you to an address using Google Maps or similar navigation app.
Step Six: Once you get to the geocache’s approximate location, you will need to walk around and search the area to find it. You can now use the “Compass” and/or the live “Map” option from the Navigation menu (see Step 4) to point you in the right direction. Follow the direction of the arrow on the compass. The compass screen will tell you approximately how close you are getting to the geocache’s location.
The GPS can get you within a certain number of feet from the exact location. Beginner level caches should be easy to find. Look around, geocaches are usually hidden out of the way so they don’t bother the casual passersby. Typical caches are the size of a lunchbox and may be camouflaged to blend in with surroundings. The ones we have found are clearly marked as “Geocache” container.
What To Do Once You Find the Geocache:
Open it and see what sort of trinkets are inside. Be sure to sign the Log Book inside the geocache and online. Replace anything you take from the cache with a trinket you have brought. Hide the geocache the same way you found it. Please do not make it harder for the next person to find.
My family loves to go geocaching. We can do it anytime, anywhere. If you are on a family road trip or vacation, take a time out and see if you can find any of the geocaches located near that area. My kids are always up for a “treasure hunt”.
Now that we have found a few of our local geocaches, my kids want to create and hide a geocache of our own. They want to put some cool treasures in a geocache for other kids to find. Hiding a geocache is another fun idea my family can do together.
It really is simple to get started geocaching. Download a free geocaching app on your smartphone and try it today. I hope you will stop back by and leave a comment below or at my Facebook page, letting me know how you did. Good luck!
Have you ever gone geocaching? Have you tried geocaching with your mobile device? What geocaching app do you like to use?