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Get Outdoors and Hunt for Treasures: Geocaching in the South

The directions simply read N 32° 44.135 W 094° 02.470. geocachingflickrRoyP

For some, those numbers don’t mean anything, but to geocachers (also known as treasure hunters), it might be the address to a great surprise or meeting place.

Growing in popularity among individuals and families, geocaching is a high tech scavenger/treasure hunting game where participants use Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to find all sorts of unknown locations.  The key is for individuals or groups to hide the cache (usually trinkets and other small items), and then post the location using coordinates for other GPS users to find.

Searching for caches is an activity for everyone, young and old, to have fun in the outdoors. And who knows what “treasures” might be discovered.

In the South, there are many places to go hunting for treasures. Places like the State Parks of Arkansas, South Carolina State Parks, Virginia State Parks and West Virginia State Parks have programs in place. Starting on May 8, Georgia State Parks will begin their own geocaching challenge.

And if you are new to this high-tech activity and happen to live in Texas, Bastrop State Park offers a class just for beginners.

Destinations are also “caching-in” on this activity as well. It’s a great way to learn more about an area in an unique way.

Download a passport in Decatur, Ala., to record your finds. Complete it, turn it in and receive a prize. Trek Ten Trails in Polk County, Fla., is filled with many caches. Issue yourself a challenge and see how many you can find. And while talking about Florida, Amelia Island has begun their own geocaching challenge as well, with an opportunity to be registered for getaway on the island once you’ve successfully found and recorded the hidden caches.

geocachingcontainersmallflickrcachemania And if you have a competitive streak, you might want to consider participating in Natural North Florida’s 2010 Geocaching Contest (PDF file). Ending on September 30, you need find and record the 36 caches hidden in the 12 county region. Correct entries will then be entered into a drawing for various prizes.

Program your GPS to Asheville, N.C., to search for caches in the shadows of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Maryland has established a statewide geocache trail that includes hidden caches in 78 cities/towns.

Searching for caching isn’t just limited to state parks, cities and towns. Resorts are also providing this activity as an option. Spend an afternoon on the hunt at places such as Barton Creek Resort & Spa in Austin or Jekyll Island (Ga.) Club Hotel.

photo credit: (top left) Geocaching, flickr, creative commons by RoyP; (bottom right) Geocaching container- small; flickr, creative commons by cachemania

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