Geocaching in Harmony with Nature (Part 2)

6 Tips for Finding a Geocache in an Environmentally Friendly Way


GeocacherTypeQuiz_Badges_vFINAL2_NatureLoverIn Geocaching in Harmony with Nature (Part 1), we gave you tips and tricks on how to hide an environmentally friendly geocache. A wise geocacher once said: “If you hide a geocache, someone will come and find it.” So this time we want to take a look at how to be a Nature Lover when hunting for a geocache.

We asked the geocaching community, Geocaching HQ-ers and Volunteer Reviewers for their tip-top tips on being kind to nature when searching for a geocache. Then we combined all the great answers into this list:

Take a deep breath and enjoy the outdoors.
  • Come prepared. When planning for a geocaching trip, make sure to read the geocache description carefully. This way you’ll know the regulations and concerns for the area before you visit. Be informed about the seasonal changes in your area. Do not visit caves in which bears or bats hibernate during autumn and winter and do not disturb breeding habitats. Before searching for a night cache in the woods, check in with park rangers or land management to make sure that this is safe for you and for the natural area.
  • Stay on track. Stick to designated trails and don’t cut across switchbacks when navigating to the geocache. Doing so might disturb flora and fauna along the way.

  • Bring garbage bags. Geocacher Cindi Lee G. says: “We cache in and trash out every time we go geocaching or hiking.” We think that’s grand! Next time you go geocaching, include a few garbage bags with your geocaching gear. This way you can pick up litter on the way to  and from the geocache. And here is something we think is genius: there are some geocaches with an extra compartment for trash bags geocachers can use to Cache In Trash Out (CITO) on their way back out.

  • Leave the car at home. If possible, bike or walk to the geocache location. This is not only great for your health and good for the environment, the slower pace might even make you notice things along the way you would have never seen speeding by in your car.

  • bear
    Only hug wooden bears! (Picture by miatabug)

    Keep geocache owners informed. Let the geocache owner know if their geocache is damaged and could potentially be dangerous to animals or vegetation.

  • Respect wildlife and plants. Observe wild animals from afar. Never feed or try to touch them. Be conscious where you are stepping so you don’t destroy fragile plants and mushrooms.  Pro-Tip from Geocacher Sarah H.: “Please clean your footwear and gear when hiking in various places. Footwear caked in mud and plant material is a good way to spread invasive species.”

  • It is OK to DNF.  You have searched in all the obvious places. You took a good look at the geocache description and the hint, but you still couldn’t find it. Log your DNF (Did Not Find) online to let the geocache owner know that you did not find the geocache. Don’t keep on searching, turning over every stone, and potentially ravaging the area. Keep in mind: A DNF is not admission to failure, it is just honest communication.

We hope these tips will help you sharpen your nature senses and become a skilled environmentally friendly geocacher. Do you have another tip for environmentally friendly geocaching? Let us know in the comments below!

Find out how you can be a complete nature loving geocacher with our 6 Tips for Hiding an Environmentally Friendly Geocache!


When I'm outside I'm happy. Besides geocaching I love gardening, hiking, cooking and spending time with my wonderful two and four legged friends. Got eight legs? Sorry, but please stay far away from me!
  • Jiří Kantor

    It is necessary not to scream in the forest, people often do this.

  • dragon flyer

    Be reasonable about your FTF obsession…!

  • Thavia

    Some of these tips should also apply to geocaching owners. Owners should be informed about the rules/regulations of the location and hide caches in a way that doesn’t harm wildlife/plants.

  • active2gether

    We try not to drive and burn fossil fuels for the sake of finding geocaches.
    We only hunt caches if we’re going to be in a particular location for other
    reasons and there is a geocache along our route that looks like an
    interesting side trip. I think each of us, me included, needs to question ourselves about how we
    pursue geocaches. 1. Do we burn fuel and contribute to air pollution for
    the sake of running up geocache numbers? 2. In our quest to find NEW
    geocaches, are we driving more than a few minutes when we could be
    returning to nearby parks or wooded areas that we have previously visited to get our nature fix? And maybe one of the most
    important questions of all, 3. Do we really need to use a motorized vehicle
    to geocache? If it’s that important to get there, why not make it
    better for our health (let alone the environment) by walking or
    bicycling to that geocache. If your reply is “But I have already found
    all the geocaches within walking/biking distance of my home,” then I
    refer you to point #2 — Why do we have to continually find NEW
    geocaches? What’s wrong with revisiting great locations we have already
    discovered? I can’t tell you how many logs I have read that say
    something like, “Great location. I’ll have to come back here again.” Do
    you think most people ever do take the time to return? I don’t think so.

    When you look our sport from an outsider’s perspective, what does it
    look like to them? The hard (and mostly unspoken) truth is that too
    often it looks like out-of-shape people driving around in cars in
    pursuit of a series of drive-up cache locations. Geocaching should make us all appreciate the outdoors,
    being alive, and excited to improve our outdoor knowledge and our
    health. It should not be the cause of us driving more miles and burning
    more fuel than we already do.

  • Xavier

    When I think of all the gasoline that is burned up driving to geocaches, it’s not good. I love the hunt, but I limit my caching to those on my way to somewhere I’m going for other reasons, or ones that I can bike or hike to.

  • juniorwoodchuckhuey

    It’s heartening to see several comments on the effect of driving to find a cache. I also try to minimize this, Canadian winters make it difficult to get outside the radius of “all caches close to home that I’ve already found”. I suppose getting together with fellow cachers and sharing a ride as well as their good company is a good compromise. I also liked active2gether’s suggestion of rediscovering some local caches.

  • Cache on Wheels

    We always try our best to respect our environment whilst out caching and in the woods too. Sometimes combining Grabbing caches whilst already out, and car sharing too.
    Unfortunatley I am unable to walk far or cyle due to physical disabilities, so I have no choice but to use my vehicle.
    I used to be very energetic doing rock climbing, abseiling, canoeing, running, karate and even bangar racing!
    So it has been difficult over the past 18 years to come to terms with not being able to do those things anymore.

    That said, it is fantastic that we have found geocaching as we can find some caching circulars that I can join my husband and children and or friends too using my mobility scooter 🙂
    This makes me feel brilliant, included, involved and I DO get to take advantage of being closer to nature. I love spotting the fungi, buds forming, berries, flowers and seeds. Also spotting wildlife eg little birds, rabbits, foxes and deer and cows, horses and sheep. It’s so wonderful 🙂
    Thank you to all who set caches that takes us to wonderful places giving us the opportunity to get closer to nature 🙂

  • Snowskiin

    Great tips, I don’t like taking the car

  • Xavier

    I had asked Groundspeak to address the fact that the elephant in the corner of this hobby is the fact that on any given day, thousands of people climb into their oil powered cars and drive hours upon hours to find cache after cache and this is adding to the burning up of our earth. I was looking to them to encourage the fans of geocaching to look for alternative ways to geocache. They weren’t very receptive. I don’t know what I was expecting. This is a business for them. I for one would eliminate the concept of the power trail. The prime example of an oil drain, just for numbers. Can’t imagine the folks who thought up the hobby, had that in mind.

  • geraldiscambrensis

    Oh so so so true. Give the newbees a chance to experience the “thrill”. Over a 1000 FTF’s is surely an obsession.

  • dragon flyer

    I’d eliminate FTFs…

  • dragon flyer

    And I have seen real environment trashing happen in the quest…

  • Essiggurkerl

    This is so true. I think the no 1 motivation for very nature – unfriendly drive-in caching is doing streak challenges. I don’t want to know how many people worldwide jumped in their cars at the end of a long working day driving to a far location with unfound tradis, find the one box required and ignoring the 3 other caches nearby to drive all the way again the next evening in the month of august creating a large carbon caching-foodprint to get those souvenirs.

  • RN01

    I have a good friend who has geocached for years. She has a bad knee and can’t walk far. Geocaching is her favorite of the few activities she can do. Not everyone drives because they are lazy. With all the driving people do, I doubt geocaching drivers add any significant damage to the environment or to fuel consumption.

  • agricola1

    We only took up the sport in early September. We love it! Our favorite destinations are nearby R2T trails and, to a lesser extent, back roads. We hike these. We have often wondered what the attraction is for geocaching by ATV. No exercise at all, no enjoyment of nature and scenery, only speed and pursuit of record numbers of caches in a single day. Who’s counting? There are enough local caches to keep us busy for the rest of our active lives. I can’t imagine a need to travel any distance to search for new caches. We also have ‘cached on the way (& back) during trips not so local. Makes a nice break from driving long distances. Geocaching has given us the incentive to explore new-to-us trails and paths, and to get that much needed exercise.