An Honorable Challenge: 200 Thunderbird Geocaching Art

The 200 Thunderbird Geo Art geocaches create a crystal clear picture that geocaching can extend beyond searching for a container outside. Geocaching means different things to different people. To many, geocaching is a reason to get outdoors, explore, and stay active. To others, geocaching is a challenge, a puzzle, or a creative outlet. To some, it is a venue for memorializing a certain event, location, or person. The 200 Thunderbird caches are a combination of all of the above.

200 Thunderbird Geo Art trail, birds-eye view

Developed by timtreinen, X$r, Johnny Rango, and Danzilla, four cachers from southern Idaho, the 200 Thunderbird is Geo Art compiled of 200 caches. The trail is located near the Mountain Home Air force Base (AFB) in Mountain Home, Idaho and forms the shape of an F-16 Thunderbird fighter plane in honor of the men and women who have served on the base over the years.

The Mountain Home AFB has been open since August of 1943 and has played a significant role in United States history. Cache developer timtreinen writes, “While we chose to do the F-16 as a nod to Mountain Home AFB and its men and women, we wanted the art to be part of something larger. We wanted it to be something our local area cachers would not only enjoy but be proud of, something they would want to invite their friends, locally and nationally, to come and enjoy with them.”

Thunderbirds in flight

After extensive research and preparation, the four cache creators spent ten hours placing all 200 caches in a single day. The plan was to have the entire Geo Art project ready in order to be introduced at the Western Idaho 11/11/11 Event. The event was orchestrated primarily by Johnny Rango and the League of Idaho Geocachers.

According to timtreinen the plan worked, “By 11/11/11, we were ready. More than 75 people showed up from all over Idaho and neighboring states to enjoy the fun of launching this new Geo Art. Many of them braved the dark, wind, and cold that night to start caching the art. ”

200 Thunderbird Crew

Here’s the catch – this Geo Art is more than an organized compilation of traditional caches. Included in the 200 Thunderbird Geo Art are 15 Wherigo Caches, 12 Letterbox-hybrid Caches, 22 Multi-Caches, and 151 Traditional Caches. The effect of using different cache types creates a color-coordinated design.

The Geo Art covers close to 5 square miles and is 5.7 miles long from top to bottom. Timtreinen states that, so far, “at least half a dozen others have finished the art with times ranging from 8 to 23 hours.”

According to timtreinen, “Judging by the participation, it seems evident that we have accomplished our purpose to create something cachers can enjoy.”

If you’re interested in popular existing  Geo Art designs, make sure to check out: Head Alien #01, PEACE SIGN SERIES #1: Can you feel the Peace?, and CREW Rookery #09 – Clyde Butcher (JP136).

  • Ksued

    And I always thought it was about geocaching to show interesting places to other cachers. How stupid from me.

  • Rlachermeier

    If we ever get close to 
    Mountain Home, Idaho we will definitely be checking this one out. I think I could go foe my single day best here. And what a great tribute!!!

  • Swimmerkid15

    Did that guy take a pogo stick to go geocaching?

  • The team told us it’s the device they use to help with cache placement. Cool stuff.

  • All my cache hids are “periods.”

  • parko

    The most challanging geocaching experience I have had, bar none! And if you want interesting places, the art overlooks the great Snake River Canyon, has numerous ties to the Oregon Trail our ancestors traversed and is in the Birds of Prey area where we celebrate and preserve the great falcons and the Bald Eagle, amoung others. Along with being a training area for pilots from Mt. Home Air Force Base who defend our country. I do believe all this does  qualify for “interesting”!

  • The three of us did most of it Monday – Returned Tue morning to finish up the multi finales after we got the coord’s on Monday – It was really nice on a cool day with a very light off and on rain – We recommend it to you all – ATVs would make the best transportation – It’s a long but very pretty walk or like us a truck – I wouldn’t recommend the family car although it probably could be done with a little walking if it has some ground clearance – Stay away it the area is very wet as the mud can get really bad – The containers were great and fairly easy to find – We had a great time and enjoyed the whole day – Six thumbs up from all of us Ü   

  • Having served at Mountain Home from 1980 to 1984, I can tell you that this is definitely on my bucket-list!

  • Bx5

    I’ve never been to Idaho.  Now I want to go.  Guess it’s about showing interesting places to other cachers after all.

  • Skybus320

    As a former F-16 pilot and now a cacher I appreciate this great work of art. I am looking forward to doing all 200.

  • mlk

    This Geo Art seems to be nice, but why must it be a fighter? In my opinion it would better have been a peace sign or something. But don’t the guidlines forbid any political agenda anyway?


    wow what a blast we had( inthelake edward40 and will4088). This trail is my frist geo art and makes me want to go do another. dont think this is poitical, just in honor for the heros who fight for are nation. and theres already a peace sign in seatlle…… the boys also put on a monthy meet and greet and the idaho quality trail at this time about 700 and some caches !!!!!  THANKS TO THE BOYS!!!!!!

  • Yes, quite stupid of you.

  • Ejwdhuf

    OMFG O.o

  • X$r

    I was responsible for the design work and overseeing the preliminary surveys. I did my best to utilize existing gates and gaps in the range fences. There is one small jog and a longer one that are notated in the adjacent cache pages. I am currently looking into doing an Blackhawk out there. We will have to scrape together our resorces and see…

  • X$r

    It is closer to Merridian and Kuna, ID. If we were alowed to proof read this blog like we were told, we could have corrected these errors.

  • X$r

    A chicken track is a far better example of political agenda… finding these caches will not lable you in any way.

  • X$r

    How about you go check it out and then post something that you actualy know about. We welcome you and hope to see you out on the hunt. Fun for all that give ot a chance.

  • X$r

    Tim and I both made a tool for inserting the cache sleeves. Mine is the blue and white one.

  • X$r

    Also wanted to give Parko credit… the blog left him out of the list of 5 cachers that spent the day placing the art.

  • Triplezed

    They’re not “periods” they are “dits”…as in dits and dahs! 73!

  • Triplezed

    I’m confused! I have 2 questions. Do you need a tool to remove the cache? And I thought GC’s weren’t supposed to be buried…are these buried in some way? (Don’t provide spoilers if possible)…just curious!

  • X$r

    All caches meet and exceed the guidlines… fingers are the only tools you need (note the lack of 5 stars on the rating). Cache sleeves are poked into the ground (not burried) and the cache sits in the sleeve. Night caching is for sure an option with the reflective sleeve tops.

  • Ogeo

    Don’t forget that Idaho has two “Signal the Frog” Geo Arts.  One in the south and one in the North near Orofino, ID.  Check out the Northwest forums post called Geo Art to see where you can find other geo art designs or post the locations of ones not mentioned yet.

  • Anonymous

    If you ever do an F-117 (Nighthawk), let me know, I’ll have to make a road trip.  🙂  (Granted my handle came from the Nighthawk 700 Motorcycle, but still…  😉  )

  • $rs

    I wish Groundspeak would come up with a way to block off the interior of a GeoArt so that people can not deface it.  Too bad this cool piece of art has been messed with!

  • BigDaddyJohnAlley

    Just outside of Las Vegas, NV is a GeoArt a good friend of mine did. It is the Girl Scout Trefoil to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouting. Its not big but it is fun.