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Geocaching around Iowa

Pictured are just a few of the geocaches located around Marshalltown.

Some Marshall County residents have found using longitude and latitude can lead to fun. 

Geocaching uses the global position system or GPS to help navigate families and adventurers to different locations all over the world in a worldwide treasure hunt. 

“It’s an electronic scavenger hunt where people can use their phones and GPS units to go out and find treasure  boxes that are hidden throughout the world and trade treasure for it,” said Emily Herring, Marshall County Conservation Naturalist. 

To play, people just need to seek out a geocaching website and find a nearby location and start the hunt using the longitude and latitude. 

They’ll know they found the spot when they find a little treasure or trinket called a geocache. 

“Oftentimes the geocaches aren’t obvious, they could be camouflaged,” Herring said. “Once you get to the vicinity of the geocache you use your eyes to be able to find it. Then once you find it you can open it up and inside they have notepad so you can write down your name. When you find it then the tradition with the geocaches is, if you take something you leave something.” 

The activity started about 20 years ago when the U.S. government and military decided to share GPS with the public for everyone to use. Since then its popularity has grown. 

“The game’s passionate community of millions of players use the Geocaching® app and GPS-enabled devices to find cleverly hidden containers called geocaches and share their experiences with others,” according to a Geocaching.com. “Today, there are more than 3 million geocaches in over 190 countries.”

Marshalltown is known to have many geocaching treasures hidden around town. 

“There used to be three alone out at the Grimes Farm,” Herring said. “There’s a lot of them all over the world.”

There’s no cost to get involved with geocaching. All that is needed is access to the database of geocaches by way of a computer.

“If the geocaches start to affect the environment around them, like a trail gets made to the geocache or erosion or something has some sort of negative effect on the environment they shut down the geocache and remove it from the website,” Herring said. 

Through that monitoring system geocaches get folks outside of their homes without harming the environment that people are exploring. 

Geocaching is done through people not governments. 

“There are private people that put the geocaching out,” Herring said. 

One of the “name logs” hidden inside every geocache.

County Conservations and governments ask people to reach out before they set up a geocache. 

“For the most part it’s done by the public,”  Herring said. 

Some geocaches are very small and some are puzzles. 

“There are lots of different types,” she said. “It’s an awesome family activity.”

Herring goes looking for geocaches with her own family and students. She would find geocaches when she would travel to places like Montana and Colorado. 

“Anywhere you go you can find them. It’s a fun activity to get outside and move around,” she said. “I would encourage families to do it in a heartbeat.” 

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Contact Thomas Nelson at tnelson@timesrepublican.com

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