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State Parks Adopts Guidelines for Geocaching, Urges Visitors to Protect Resources

Originally Published in MotorHome Magazine

California State Parks announced today a set of Geocaching Guidelines
for use by the public when pursuing the popular activity within state
parks. The guidelines are designed to provide an appropriate conduct for
the activity in those state parks where it is allowed, while still
preserving and protecting the sensitive lands and facilities within
those parks.

Geocaching is reported to be one of the fastest growing outdoor
recreation activities in the world today. It is essentially an activity
that involves using GPS, Global Positioning System satellites and
hand-held GPS receivers, to navigate and find or plant hidden containers
known as geocaches that typically contain a logbook or small treasure.
It is estimated that there are more than 700,000 such caches worldwide

“We understand the popularity of this sport and the demand for
it to continue,” said Tony Perez, Deputy Director for Operations for
California State Parks. “Our concern is that many have secretly hidden
such caches in places where repeated searches, successful and
unsuccessful, have caused damage to facilities or natural areas. We are
asking that visitors follow our guidelines and respect these fragile
environments to insure they survive for the benefit of future

Before anyone engages in the activity at any park facility, it
is strongly encouraged that they talk to the park staff to learn if the
activity is permitted and what rules and regulations associated with
that specific park unit apply. Different parks have different rules due
to the varying kinds of resources that are being protected within those

The following are the main Geocaching Guidelines for California State Parks:

Caches may be allowed where they do not affect natural, cultural and historical resources, visitor safety or other park users.

Caches are typically not allowed or encouraged in the following State Park System units

  • State Cultural Reserve 
  • State Natural Reserve
  • State Historic Park and State Historic Monument
  • State Wilderness

Virtual caches are encouraged and must adhere to the applicable requirements used for physical caches.

Caches may not be buried, nor may vegetation, rocks or other
features be marked or damaged in the process of placing, accessing or
maintaining the cache.

Physical caches are not permitted inside or upon any State Park facility or structure.

Caches may not be permanently attached (glued, bolted, or
screwed) to any historic structure, monument, archeological, natural or
geologic feature.

Caches are not allowed within 300 feet of streams, marshes or sensitive water features.

Caches may not be placed more than three feet from a designated trail.

The state parks ask that geocachers please understand that in
addition to providing for high-quality outdoor recreational
opportunities, California State Parks has the mission to preserve the
state’s extraordinary biological diversity and protect its most valued
natural and cultural resources.

California State Parks are pleased that more and more people who enjoy Geocaching are following the Geocachers’ Creed out of respect for the environment and park property.

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