Geocaching 101

by Charlie Labuzzetta

What do geocaching and Harry Potter have in common?

The term “muggle” is used by both communities to describe those who do not know about geocaching or wizardry! This post will answer your questions about geocaching so that you are no longer a muggle.

What is a geocache?

A geocache is a small container placed at specified GPS coordinates in a public place that geocachers can search for using clues from an online database. Each geocache contains a signable list of all the previous geocachers that have found it and some geocaches are large enough for tradable trinkets to be left inside.

How can I give geocaching a try?

First, you will need a free account at Then you can search either online or in the geocaching app on a smartphone for a geocache near you. There are many different types of geocaches, but the standard type will provide GPS coordinates and a few hints to help you find the geocache once you reach the coordinates. Sometimes you will need to solve a puzzle to discover the coordinates or visit multiple caches before reaching the final geocache.

When geocaching, you will need access to a device that can provide GPS coordinates. Most smartphones now have this capability and there are several free geocaching apps that are very useful. You should also bring a pencil/pen so that you can sign the log inside the geocache when you find one. Be sure to wear long pants and tennis shoes when geocaching. Sometimes, geocaches are located in the woods or even up trees. A few years ago there was a geocache on central campus about 40 feet up in one of the pine trees.

Are there geocaches at ISU or in Ames?

You may have guessed that there are geocaches on campus and in Ames! In fact, there are over 100 within 2 miles of campus. I have only found a handful, but it is an enjoyable weekend activity to grab a few friends and trek through campus on a geocache hunt. If you’d like to start out easy, try finding the geocache at the “coordinates”: GV1202 G46 M35 2004 in our very own Parks Library!

Happy Hunting! Beware of muggles.


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