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Geocaching 104: Creating and Placing Your Own Geocache

by Carolyn K. director, Hoagies' Gifted Education Page

New to Geocaching?  Start with Geocaching 101: Finding Your First Cache.  Need a refresher on the acronyms and terms of Geocaching?  Visit Geocaching Acronyms

Placing your own geocache is a little more complicated than you might think.  But once you've followed the directions and done it once or twice, you'll find it adds a whole new dimension to your geocaching.  And you will get logs on your caches, and learn what others think of your containers, hides, and puzzles!

Here's a great video to get your started: Beginner's Guide to Hiding a Geocache.

Now that you know what not to do when placing a geocache, consider two things: where will you place the cache, or what do you want the cache container to look like?  If you choose the location first, it may drive the cache container; if you choose the container first, you may limit your locations.  Whichever you choose first, be sure to select a cache location that's safe for geocachers to find your cache, and if there's some confusion about where to park, be sure to add Parking Coordinates to your new cache description. If the location could use a little clean-up, remind cachers to bring a bag and gloves and CITO while they're searching. 

When you're selecting your location, be sure you have permission from the land owner or land manager.  Many parks have established policies. Some may be simple (just ask) or complex (fill out a form, attend a parks meeting, etc.).  Whatever the policy, please follow it.  We don't want to give geocaching a bad name!  If the cache is on private property be very sure that the land owner is aware of the geocachers, and note in the cache description any restrictions the land owner requests.

Once you have your location, take a reading from your GPS to get the location for your cache.  Don't stop there, though.  Wait a few minutes for the GPS to settle, and take several more readings. If you have more than one device, take readings with all of them.  If you're using a smart phone or tablet, install and use an app for waypoint averaging, to get the most accurate location you can.  Plug your reading into Google Maps (yup, it takes lat/long readings) and see if the resulting location matches your physical location.  Everything matches up?  That's a good lat/long.

When you're selecting or creating your cache container, consider the objective of your cache.  Are you trying to bring geocachers to a nearby park, area or historic location?  Then a traditional cache container might be right.  If it's a large, remote area, an ammo can in the woods might be a good choice; for smaller areas, a fake rock, smaller Lock-and-Lock, bison tube or magnetic container might be perfect. For a great list of good and bad geocache containers, read GroundSpeak's Containers Explained

Depending on the location's requirements, you might be able to camouflage your container, or you might need to leave it clear, so that accidently finders can see the contents without opening the container. Safety first!

Creativity is often shared, around the corner and across the world.  Here's a creative Puzzle Cache, and the CO kindly shared his construction in a video for us all.  Combination Log.  And here's a very Evil Cache!

Pre-made containers are available in many places.  See Geocaching: The sport for kids of all ages for a list of geocaching stores.  But to add another level of interest to geocaching, consider creating your own cache container.  It can be as simple as adding your own camouflage to a regular bison tube or Lock-and-Lock container, or creating an entire container from scratch.

Or is the cache the highlight of the area, and you'd like to do something a little more creative?  Here's a guide to some creative cache construction... Creative CacheHound Senseless Cache a series of field puzzles based around the 5 senses. Pictured on the right is a Gadget Cache from the Gadget Caches of Berkeley County, West Virginia.  For this cache, finding the cache is simple, but solving the puzzle to open it is your challenge. Seekers must use the enclosed xylophone to tap out a tune, then figure out how to open the attached padlock and retrieve and sign the log book.  Amazing Cache Owner creativity!  If you get the chance, be sure to visit ALL the gadget caches of WVTim. They're worth a geocaching family road trip!

Sometimes the cache container and location are just plain, and the cache itself is the challenge, in the form of a Puzzle Cache.  Geocaching 103: Puzzle Caches offers lots of ideas for creating (or solving) Puzzle Caches.

When you have made all your choices, gotten permission from the land manager, and created your cache container, you're ready to place your own cache, visit Geocaching.com, go to the Hide & Seek a Geocache page, and click on Start Cache Submission Process. Follow the instructions, and place your first geocache!

Updated December 01, 2020

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