Geocaching at a cemetery.

Geocaching is the perfect activity when RVing. Geocaching is a modern version of a treasure hunt using either a GPS unit or your smartphone.

As you travel the country, you can find these treasures in state parks, rest areas, towns, country roads, or really anywhere. There are classes teaching geocaching at many state parks but below are the basic steps with some hints.

1. Download the Geocaching app from your phone’s app store (it is free). Register yourself. This gives you access to many geocaches and records the ones you have found.

2. Click on the app. It should open on a map. You may have to hit the circle near the top right to find your location as a blue dot on the map.

3. Zoom in and out to find nearby caches. Tap the nearest one.

4. Tap the cache name then the "Navigate" button. This shows you the distance and direction to the cache. The map may show building and roads that can help you.

5. As you move toward the cache, you’ll see an arrow on the blue dot. Or, hit the compass symbol on the top right to see the general direction.

6. In general, try to get the distance down to 20 feet. At that point experience kicks in. Look for likely and unlikely spots to hide a cache.

Look down — a pile of rocks or wood may hide a cache. You might also want to look up in case the cache is hanging.

7. More information is available on the app. You can challenge yourself to find the cache without any of this additional information. Sometimes I wait until I haven’t found it after a good search to use these hints.

Sometimes I read this information before so I can find it quickly in a busy spot. In general, we try to keep "muggles" (non-geocachers) from noticing a search since they may remove a cache thinking it is trash.

A larger ammo box cache.

  • "Description" gives you the information from the owner. Many times there will be some short lesson about the area.
  • "Hint" is a hint from the owner that might help when you are close. Most caches don’t tell you everything about the hiding spot to keep it a challenge.
  • "Activity" shows dates and notes from people that found or did not find (DNF) the cache. Many times the comments or pictures can help you if you are having problems finding the cache. If the recent activity shows several DNFs, you may want to skip this cache. Sometimes caches disappear.
  • I use "Size" to get a feel for the size of the cache.

8. When you find the cache, you can open it and sign the log. Most people bring pencils just in case the pencil is lost or the cache is too small to fit a pencil. There may be small items inside. If you take one, try to replace it with something you brought along.

9. Click on the "Log" button on your phone. This gives you the option of "Found" or to mark it "DNF." Include a note when logging. Courtesy says to at least say TFTC (thanks for the cache) to thank the cache owner for their work.

You can also use a GPS handheld unit that may get you closer and eliminate the “bounce” that smartphones occasionally see (the cache appears to move around as you get closer).

The coordinates are on the app or on If you like geocaching, you can go further by hiding a geocache and be the owner to maintain it. There are events for geocachers along with special types of caches.

The view from one geocache in South Carolina.

Geocaching has been our excuse to ride our bikes on country roads or to take a hike. It’s just an extra push to get out there.

Personally, we rarely open the cache but just mark it as found on our account. We enjoy the search, even if we don’t find the cache every time.

Geocaching can be a great family activity. This gets the family outdoors with an easy goal. It isn’t all about finding the cache. It’s about looking for it in some pretty cool places.