Minnesota State Parks and Trails Geocaching Program
The Geocaching Wildlife Safari, a high-tech treasure hunt, is nearing the end of its three-year run as one of the more popular programs of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Parks and Trails Division.
Since the program began, interpretive naturalists at Minnesota state parks have offered 325 Geocaching 101 Programs that have reached more than 9,000 first-time geocachers. In 2011, free loaner GPS units were checked out from the demo parks nearly 3,000 times.
“We’re delighted that so many people have shown interest in geocaching at Minnesota state parks and recreation areas,” said Courtland Nelson, director of the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division. “Geocaching has clearly been an effective way for us to connect people with the outdoors, especially kids. We’re grateful for the support offered us by the Minnesota Geocaching Association.”
In 2008, Minnesota state parks first invited geocachers to participate in a program known as Geocaching History Challenge presented by Best Buy. More than 20,000 geocache finds were recorded by experienced and first-time geocachers alike in less than one year.
Participation has continued to grow through the Geocaching Wildlife Safari, launched in 2009. Families have poured into the parks to explore the outdoors while hunting for hidden critter caches, which contain collectible critter cards featuring facts and photos of animals native to the park.
Geocaching is a high-tech game with great popularity around the globe. Participants utilize GPS to hunt for hidden cache containers. Typically caches are old ammo boxes camouflaged in the outdoors, making them a challenge to locate. There are more than 1,711,000 active caches around the world, according to geocaching.com.
Nelson said a new geocaching program will launch on Saturday, June 9, which is National Get Outdoors Day. For more information, including the locations of the demo parks, visit mndnr.gov/geocaching or call the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.