Geocaching- Texas State Parks’ digital treasure hunt




More than 90 state parks located throughout Texas are introducing future geocachers to the sport by hosting more than 1,200 geocaches, or prize-filled containers, hidden within state parks. Caches can be located online in advance, found by using a Global Positioning System (GPS) or by downloading a free and easy-to-use Smartphone application.

Many state parks host Geocache 101 workshops, free with normal park entry, to teach newbies the basics of this modern-day twist on an old-fashioned treasure hunt.

“The sport of geocaching continues to grow rapidly in Texas and around the globe with nearly 2.5 million geocaches available to the public being sought after by more than 6 million active participants,” says Robert Owen, Texas Outdoor Family Program coordinator for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “For Texans, geocaching is especially accessible and a fun way to get outside with nearly 64,000 geocaches across the state.”

The ongoing Texas State Parks Geocache Challenge that kicked off Oct. 1, 2012 has attracted more than 250 Texas households, so far, and anyone can participate. The Challenge has generated 19,826 “finds” in Texas state parks the past two years. It’s a great way for park visitors of all ages to learn interesting facts and stories about Texas history, conservation and stewardship of Texas State Parks, while also earning prizes.

Prizes vary depending on how many caches are found:
10 caches found - Entry-level Pathtag, keychain, and sticker
20 caches found - Bronze-level Pathtag, medal challenge sticker, and 50 percent off a state park visit
30 caches found - Silver-level Pathtag and 50 percent off one night of camping
50 caches found - Gold-level Pathtag and 20 percent off a state park store purchase (limit five items)
80 caches found - Platinum-level Pathtag and one free night of camping

Geocaching, which is the hunt for caches hidden by people worldwide, is also supported by online communities, including www.geocaching.com. Participants find coordinates, share photos and tips, and learn all the particulars about the activity. After finding the latitude and longitude of a hidden cache, geocachers are guided to within 12 feet of its location. Then, geocachers search the surrounding terrain until they locate the “goodies” in a container that might be as small as a film canister or as large as an ammo box. These treasures are never buried, so no shovel is needed.

For more information and to find coordinates of prize-filled caches in Texas State Parks, visit texasstateparks.org/geocache.

Photo: Houston Chronicle

 




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