Tread Lightly

Tread Lightly


Here are some crucial tips to minimize impact on the environment when geocaching in the great outdoors!  This information is also available as a brochure.

Cache Placers
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    To minimize environmental impact– don’t place food items in a cache, bury it, or hide it in sensitive areas.
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    Familiarize yourself with restrictions and prohibitions in your area before you decide where to place a cache.

  • The National Park Service (NPS), for example, has strict geocaching regulations. Obtain permission first before leaving a cache on NPS lands. (Where can I geocache on federal land?)
  • Do not burry a cache in the ground.
  • Build a relationship with local land owners or land management agencies, to ensure minimal impact of cache placement.
  • It is the cache owner’s responsibility to maintain the cache and the surrounding area. If a cache’s area is impacted, confer with the land manager on how you will mitigate the impacts and seek their advice as to whether to relocate the cache.
  • Never place food items in a cache.
  • Avoid modifying the environment when hiding a cache.
  • Avoid placing caches in sensitive habitats including wetlands, caves, steep slopes, cryptobiotic soils of the desert, tundra and seasonal nesting or breeding areas.
  • Do not place a cache in areas officially designated as “Wilderness Areas,” Wild and Scenic River Corridors, or near historic, cultural, archeological or paleontological sites.  (What are Wilderness areas?)


Cache Seekers
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    Practice the “lift, look, replace” technique. If you lift a rock to look under it, replace it exactly as you found it.

    Use maps to find a route that will minimize impacts. Note waypoints during your journey to assist you on your return trip.

  • Understand that distances can be deceiving. Know the difference between beeline distances (a straight line) versus actual distance of travel.  Your app may tell you you’re a mile from a cache, but there could be streams, cliffs, sensitive areas, or obstacles in the way.  It’s your responsibility to find the safest route with the smallest impact.
  • Use the “track back” feature on your Global Positioning System (GPS) unit rather than flagging and marking trails.
  • Keep in mind that geocaches should be hidden, not buried, so digging is unnecessary and damaging.
  • If you notice a path has started to wear in the vicinity of a cache, notify the cache owner via email.
  • Practice the “lift, look, replace” technique. If you lift a rock to look under it, replace it exactly as you found it.
  • After you’ve finished searching for a cache, the area should look as though you were never there or better than when you arrived.
  • Buddy up with two or three geocachers, reducing vulnerability if you have an accident or breakdown.


Both Seekers and Placers
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    Cross streams only at fords where the road or trail crosses the stream.

    In areas without trails, spread out in open country. Spreading out, rather than following each other’s footsteps, disperses impact and avoids creating a new trail. If possible, travel on hardened surfaces such as gravel, slick rock or in sand washes.

  • If traveling by vehicle, stay on designated roads and trails.
  • Cross streams only at fords where the road or trail crosses the stream.
  • Be a geocaching advocate by carrying a small trash bag to pick up litter along the way!


Read the FULL VERSION of Tread Lightly!’s Tips for Responsible Gecaching!

To view this information in a brochure format Click Here.

Tips to Tread Lightly when Camping

Tips to Tread Lightly when Hiking

Tips to Tread Lightly when Four Wheeling

Click here to get more tips for all kinds of outdoor recreation.

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