GPS makes geocaching possible but the Internet makes it happen. There’s a ton of resources out there and more coming in every day . As with most things, if you line up 50 geocachers and ask them what their Top 10 Internet resources are, you’ll get 50 different answers. One thing they’ll all agree on – geocaching technology and support has come a long way and there are lots of options. What to do? Play around with as many things as you can and find the ones that work for you. To be a geocacher, you have to have some geek in you. That’s part of the game. We’ve been using these resources for a while. They work.
Natasha at the Wild Turkey geocache in the Santa Rita Mountains near the Mexican border in Arizona. Before you tackle caches like this, make sure you’ve got the right equipment and have done the background work. These sites will help you with that.
#10 – www.trails.com – Recently combined with Topozone.com, this is a great source for trail information and maps in all 50 states. There are free, trial and paid versions. If you plan on getting serious, it’s worth the $49.95 annual subscription but for occasional use, the free version is probably enough.
#9 – www.us.orienteering.org – The “thinking man’s sport” uses a map and compass to find points on a course. This is a valuable skill set which will greatly augment your caching skills, especially if you head into the back country. It’s also a lot of fun and great exercise. (free)
#8 – www.gpsgames.org – As the title says, these are activities that you can do with your GPSr. They are similar to geocaching but offer some variety and different challenges. We like the geodashing. It’s great for exploring on the fly. (free)
#7 –www.waymarking.com Waymarking is a variation of caching using existing natural, man-made and historical places as caches. Very good for traveling, classroom projects and exploring. (free)
#6 – www.atlasquest.com – Before GPS and geocaching, there was letterboxing. Invented in Scotland it’s been around for over 150 years. In this, you follow clues, maps and compasses to find hidden treasures. This web site is the best one for finding and recording letterboxes. (free)
#5 – National Park Service maps – If you need a map of any place run by the National Park Service, this is the place. This is their map center at Harper’s Ferry, WV. All are downloadable and free.
#4 –www.amazon.com No surprise here. They have everything you need for any geocaching or other outdoor activity you may be planning. GPS, gazetteers, compasses, CamelBaks – you name it, they’ve got it. Our one stop shop for everything.
#3 – earth.google.com – The best mapping and imagery site around. Great for recons, route planning, geocache locations and much much more. Use the geocache KLM overlay to find caches in any area. You can download it or you can use it online. If you want to use the geocache KLM file, you need to use the download version of Earth. Google Earth is free and has so many capabilities, it’s downright scary.
#2 – www.expertgps.com – IMHO, it’s the best integrated GPS software package out there. Loads on your computer – not on your phone or GPSr. Enables mass loading of caches from computer to GPSr, view cache information and logs without an active Internet connection and view/create all kinds of maps. This allowed us to go paperless. Tech support is very responsive. One time price of $49.95.
#1 – www.geocaching.com– This is where it all starts. There are other caching sites but this is the best. You can use a free account or pay $30 a year for a premium account, which is worth it. This site also owns Waymarking (dot) com and lists benchmarks near every cache. You really can’t geocache without it.
That’s all for now … Boris and Natasha