Geocaching has become an increasingly popular activity, and for those unfamiliar with it, it is a sort of high-tech treasure hunt: “For the traditional geocache, a geocacher will place a waterproof container containing a log book (with pen or pencil) and trade items then record the cache’s coordinates. These coordinates, along with other details of the location, are posted on a listing site” (Wikipedia). Other geocachers will use their GPS to find the hidden caches, sign their names, take any available trinkets, and then leave an item of their own.
Similar to geocaching is an activity called EarthCaching, which, instead of having a physical cache, results in locating a feature of the natural world: “Instead of leaving or removing anything from the site, EarthCachers document their observations and answer questions as a learning experience, and then report their discoveries on the EarthCache website.” Shenandoah National Park offers a beautiful place to go EarthCaching, with no fee other than admission into the park.
So, how do you go about starting an EarthCaching adventure at Shenandoah National Park?
- Set up a geocaching membership (basic membership is free).
- Check out the available EarthCaches at Shenandoah National Park, and choose which hike you’d like to do. (The Blackrock EarthCache is the closest to the Iris Inn. It’s only a 45-minute drive away and is a relatively easy hike in a beautiful area!)
- Have a GPS device or GPS app on your phone.
Both EarthCaching and geocaching are fun ways to explore different areas, and the biggest benefit is that anyone can participate. (Make sure to not leave any traditional caches at Shenandoah National Park. The park only allows EarthCaching.)
Happy hunting from the Iris Inn!