15+ Geocaching Terms

Geocaching is a game that uses GPS coordinates to find hidden treasures. It’s fun, it’s challenging and it can be addictive! But before you start your geocaching journey, you’ll need to know the lingo so you don’t end up looking like an amateur. Here are the most common Geocaching terms and what they mean:

  • Coordinates: Coordinates are the numbers that describe a waypoint or cache. They can be expressed in degrees, minutes and seconds (e.g., 42° 28′ 12″ N 105° 18′ 04″ W), decimal degrees (e .g., -105.306667, 38.483333) or UTM coordinates.
  • DNF: DNF stands for Did Not Find and is used to denote something geocachers may encounter while on their hunt! When you’re looking at a log entry with this designation it means someone who was there couldn’t find what they were looking for when they went back to check out where the cache should’ve been hidden! To add more information about why people might have not found your cache try using tags such as ‘I went to the coordinates but I couldn’t find anything,’ or by adding a description about what they looked for and how long it took them.
  • GPS: A GPS (Global Positioning System) is an app that will usually have maps, points of interest and other geocacher waypoints in one place – you can use your phone’s GPS to help locate caches!
  • Latitude & Longitude: Coordinates are expressed using degrees, minutes and seconds on our map which allows us to pinpoint any location we want more precisely than just describing it with a city name. Latitudes are lines going across the earth at 90° intervals from pole-to-pole while longitudes run north/south like meridians on the globe.
  • Waymarking: Waymarking (also known as geotagging) is the process of adding a comment or photo to Google Street View that will show up when you zoom in on your area! This can be done through an app called Groundspeak’s Geocaching HQ which allows people with premium memberships and approved accounts to do this automatically, but anyone can add waymarks manually by typing their message into the designated field when uploading photos.
  • Waypoint: A waypoint is simply any point on a map or in the field that is used as a reference for navigation. An example would be “the road leading to our house.”
  • Cache: A cache (or ‘cache container’) refers to something being hidden from plain sight, usually with the intention of someone finding it later. An example would be a toy chest in your living room that’s been turned upside down and covered with blankets.
  • Cache Find: Finding the hidden cache is called “finding” or ‘cache finding.’ It can also refer to the act of reporting an accurate GPS location for someone else to find it, too!
  • Points/Miles: Geocaches are often located on public land where visitors may not have permission to go off-trail. In order to keep track of how far a person goes from their car (or other point), geocache listings will typically list either points or miles as part of the description. One waypoint might say something like “0 points”, meaning you don’t need any more points to reach the cache, or “0.25 miles” meaning you need to walk .25 of a mile from where your vehicle is parked in order to find it!
  • EarthCache: An Earthcache is an educational activity that focuses on something occurring at a specific location (e.g., erosion) and encourages people who come across the site via geocaching or other means to get involved with exploring it/helping create more detailed information about what’s happening there. An example would be going out and taking measurements for elevation changes as well as photos / notes so others can see how things change over time (and also learn!)
  • Premium Memberships: Premium memberships are an optional way to support Geocaching while enjoying features like unlimited downloads of GPX files, access to basic geocache data including worldwide coordinates, description and hints before they expire (one hour from publication), ability to view logs of found caches on more detail than free users can see. There is also a community aspect where premium members can share information with each other such as pictures taken during their adventures or links to articles about interesting sites along the route!
  • Cache In Trash Out: Cache-in-trash out refers to leaving trash behind and choosing not to take it with you, in order to keep the area clean. Many people leave their trash at home and make an effort to pick up litter they find during a hike or geocache hunt!
  • Cacheable Item: Cacheable items are things that can be traded for other cacheables such as toys, coins, stamps – anything of value is considered ‘cacheable.’
  • Traditional Cache: A traditional cache refers to a container hidden from plain sight where there might be something inside worth trading for (e.g., trinkets). Traditional caches will also often have logs so visitors who found them can share what happened when they got there! An example would be a small plastic box filled with goodies like stickers and maybe even a toy.
  • Earthbox Cache: An Earthbox cache is a type of traditional cache (usually small) where the finder can trade in items for something inside, but instead of a container like those found in traditional caches, they are usually just hiding something under an object or bush that’s been turned upside down! This might be easier and more convenient as it doesn’t require anything to come with you on your hikes – what you need is already there waiting for someone to take home!
  • Travel Bug: A Travel bug refers to any item (or geocache itself!) that has had one set of trackable numbers attached at some point so people other than its owner could follow. It will have this sticker showing who ‘owns’.

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