Top Tips for Puzzle Caches

By Dani Navarre


About to sing an "Ode to the Golgafrinchan Phone Workers"...GC32A0H
About to sing an “Ode to the Golgafrinchan Phone Workers”…GC32A0H


Do puzzle caches leave you scratching your head?

Does the thought of having to decode encrypted messages make you break out in hives? If no, then you might be a geocaching Puzzler in disguise. If yes, then take a deep breath and find your happy place because we have just the tips to sooth your puzzle anxiety.

Puzzle caches, Mystery caches, or Unknown caches are a type of geocache for those who enjoy an extra challenge.

They require geocachers to solve complicated puzzles in order to decode the correct cache coordinates or crack secret clues to unlock a cache’s stash. If you haven’t encountered this kind of cache before the prospect may seem daunting, but have no fear! Puzzle caches are fun way to spice up any geocaching adventure while flexing your beefy brain muscles.

These folks are just a puzzle away from 'Within Reach"...GC4B84C
These folks are just a puzzle away from ‘Within Reach”…GC4B84C

So don your trenchcoat and channel your inner Sherlock.

(‘Cause who wouldn’t want to be Benedict Cumberbatch?). Here are Geocaching HQ’s top tips for puzzle caches:

  • Practice Makes Perfect. Start easy by tackling puzzle caches that have a one or two star difficulty rating. The more puzzle caches you conquer over time the more tricks of trade you’ll pick up and the easier it’ll become.
  • Check what type of puzzle needs to be solved. There are different kinds of puzzle caches that call for different strategies, so before you head out check to see what the requirements entail. Some caches are in-the-field, meaning you have to use visual clues from the surrounding location to decipher the coordinates or unlock the cache. Other caches can be solved before you even step out the door! These ask you to solve a particular puzzle off of the geocache’s webpage or lookup information on the internet.
  • Gather the Mystery Gang. Two heads are better than one! Bring your geocaching pals along, not only is geocaching more fun when you have your buddies but they can help you brainstorm through those extra tricky questions.
  • Check for invisible ink. Sometimes cache owners will hide clues on a geocache’s webpage in white font. Highlight the page to reveal the secrets that were right in front of your nose the whole time. Bonus points if you caught this one! You’re a Puzzler already!
  • The source code isn’t just a movie. Cache owners may add comments with hints in the cache’s html source code. To find this open the source code on your browser’s menu selection and search for comments.
  • It’s all in the name. A hint to the cache’s location may be located in the cache’s or cache owner’s name or give you an idea of where the cache may be or what it may look like.
  • When in doubt use Google. Search engines may not have the answer to everything, but they have the answer for a lot of things. So if you’re truly stuck, look to the internet to give you a helping hand. Some cache pages may even include answer checkers to see if you guessed the correct coordinates.

Whether you want to step up your geocaching game or are trying to earn your Puzzler’s badge for 7 Souvenirs of August, puzzle caches are an excellent way to mix your geocaching routine. If you’re looking for a little cache-speration check out “Ode to the Golgafrinchan Phone Workers” (GC32A0H), an unique cache inspired by The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that requires you to listen carefully and dial in the right code. Close by is the geocache “Within Reach” (GC4B84C) which asks you to use visual clues to open a cache that also moonlights as a piece of functional art!

Do you love a good mystery? Tell us about your puzzling geocaching experiences or share your favorite puzzle tips! Be careful not to reveal any cache spoilers.




 Can you spot the mystery within this post?
Alex is a Community Volunteer Support Coordinator at Geocaching HQ. When things get crazy, she sends in the big puns.