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Placing a geocache

Placing a Geocache

A review of the Guidelines and more

By mmacgown


Location“When you go to hide a geocache, think of the reason you are bringingpeople to that spot. If the only reason is for the geocache, then find a better spot.”

– briansnat

Give some thought about how others will perceive it. Does it bring them to someplace special, a spot with a view, someplace with historical significance. Please consider the surroundings. No garbage, I usually discourage hides on fire hydrants , since that is most likely a location where dogs do their business and I certainly don’t want to search a spot where I have to sanitize my hands afterwards. Consider taking others to someplace you wouldn’t mind searching!

Select an appropriate location and container.

        Think about how your container and the actions of geocachers seeking it will be perceived by the public. Although your cache will be hidden with landowner or land manager permission, concerned passersby who are unaware of geocaching, may view people searching the property as suspicious. For urban caching especially, one should always think about how someone searching for, retrieving or replacing a cache would look to someone looking out a nearby window. If a searcher needs to be stealthy they will likely draw unwanted attention to themselves so maybe a better spot should be found. Containers that could be perceived as a bomb or another dangerous item should not be placed. To reduce the risk of your cache being perceived as dangerous by nongeocachers, and being permanently archived by Groundspeak, use common sense when selecting hiding places and containers. A label indicating it is a geocache is also recommended.

       The muggle factor – does the location place the searcher in a very uncomfortable situation or does it afford them an opportunity to use stealth. Regarding urban geocaches, just imagine how a muggle looking out from a window would perceive a cacher searching.

       The Safety factor – make sure that when you place it that the location of the cache doesn’t put the cacher in a spot where there are safety concerns, such as traffic.

 Type of container

            Ammo cans

            Lock & Locks,


            Film cans – prescription bottles


            Nanos/bison tubes/magnetic keyholders

            Unique container

           Use of containers that resemble pipe bombs are strongly discouraged.

           Urban caches should always be clear containers so if accidentally found by a

           muggle they can see inside and be less alarmed.

Cammo tape


Most containers should have a logbook, logsheet, geocache stash note, writing utensil and swag. Micros only need a log. Cache description should tell whether or not a writing utensil is required. Contents should be family friendly. Food, weapons, knives, candles, matches, chapstick, crayons or any other inappropriate items should not be placed in a geocache. Food or scented items should never be placed in a geocache, since it will attract animals which might then destroy the geocache. With respect to bubbles, it isn’t considered inappropriate, but then think about the winter weather freezing and bursting the container, or it may just leak and make a mess. I’ve seen it.


Make sure that you have permission of the landowner if placing a cache not on public property. Some states such as NYS require a NYS geocache placement permit.

Here is NYAdmin’s link to NYS land specific issues:

Solicitation and Commercial Content:

Geocaches do not solicit for any purpose.

Cache listings perceived to be posted for religious, political, charitable or social agendas are not permitted. Geocaching is intended to be an enjoyable, familyfriendly hobby, not a platform for an agenda. Cache pages cannot require, and should not strongly encourage, the placement of new caches. This is considered an agenda and the listing will not be publishable.

Commercial geocaches are disallowed.

Cache listings perceived as commercial will not be published. A commercial cache listing has one or more of the following characteristics:

1. It has overtones of advertising, marketing or promotion.

2. It suggests or requires that the finder go inside a business, interact with employees and/or purchase a product or service.

3. It contains links to businesses, agencies, commercial advertisers, charities, or political or social agendas.

4. It contains the logo of a business or organization, including non-profit organizations.

5. It contains the name of a business or commercial product.

6. On rare occasions, Groundspeak partners with an organization to publish a sponsored cache, or series of sponsored caches. Official GeoTours are examples of approved sponsored cache series. These partnerships occur solely at Groundspeak’s invitation and/or discretion.

In a nutshell, any cache that is commercial in nature or promotes a cause is prohibited.

Suitable Location

Caches are not permitted to be placed on highway bridges, within 150ft of railroad tracks, airport property, school grounds, dams, military installations, government buildings and in some locations on playground equipment for obvious reasons.

Most vacation caches are not published, since the CO is less likely to be able to maintain it. Why not place it near home where the local geocachers and friends can enjoy finding it.

The following link takes you to a WIKI created by Groundspeak where the local reviewers have the local land specific issues posted:

Getting the coords – accuracy

You can either average the coords or take several readings. I suggest that you take an average, then walk away from it by about 200 ft and then using the coords you have navigate to the cache and see how you do. You can also look on GoogleEarth to see where the coords take you to be sure it is in the correct area. I would also suggest that when you list the cache, show the coords on the map and see if it looks right.

Proximity and Cache Saturatio

At no point are 2 caches allowed to be any closer than 528ft or 0.1 miles from another. In the case of a multi-cache, all parts of a multi cache are allowed to be closer than 528 ft. But at no time is another geocache allowed to be any closer that any physical art of a multi-cache. I would suggest that if you are placing a cache in a certain area, that you have all other caches or parts of a multi -cache in your GPS to assist you in avoiding a proximity issue.

Creating the webpage on

Demonstrate creating a listing. Initial listing page does the HTML for you if you want. So you can copy formatted type into the listing page and it should work.

Hints – to use them or not. I use them because I want my caches to be found. I love getting those “found it” logs. I do not want to frustrate caches when they go in search of my geocaches. This is all subjective. Others don’t use them because they want to challenge the geocacher. I suggest that if you prefer not to give hints, then you better be sure that the coords are very accurate.

Ratings – Difficulty/Terrain.

The difficulty reflects how hard it is to either solve a puzzle or find the cache.

The terrain should accurately reflect how difficult it is to get to the cache itself. A rate of 1 for terrain should only be used for caches that are wheelchair accessible. There is a link on the cache submission page which can help you to rate your cache. A hike that involves uphills, elevations, or uneven footing could be a 3 terrain or higher. A long hike might also be considered a 3 terrain. Any caches that require any special equipment such as a boat, climbing gear or other equipment should be rated a 5.


Geocaches are placed for the long term. Cachers will expect your geocache to remain in place for a realistic and extended period of time. Therefore, caches that have the goal to move (traveling caches), or temporary caches (caches hidden for less than 3 months or for one-time events) will not be published.

Vacation geocaches are discouraged since it would be hard to maintain them.


Cache owners are responsible for the maintenance of the geocache and the online listing. Bogus logs or inappropriate logs should be deleted. You are responsible to visit your geocache if logs indicate it is in trouble, such as a damaged container or a new log needed.


Caches that are in a bad location or constantly damaged may need to be archived. If that is the case, the owner is responsible for the removal of any remains left behind.

Placing it – never bury it, There is to be no damage to surroundings when placing it. Graffiti is never allowed. Keep in mind that when placing a cache in the woods, that it will not have an adverse effect on wildlife. The jury is still out regarding sprinkler head geocaches. NYAdmin is discouraging the placement of such type of container in New York.

Guidelines for Specific Geocache Types.

Not all geocache types have additional guidelines, and guidelines that cover all geocaches still apply. For all cache types that have multiple stages, physical elements (tags, containers, or any physical addition to the location) must be added to the listing as Additional Waypoints.

1. Traditional Caches

A traditional cache consists of at least a container and logbook and is located at the  posted coordinates.

2. Multi-Caches

The coordinates posted at the top of the cache listing are for the first stage of a multi-cache.  Provide the coordinates of all subsequent stages of the multi-cache by using the Additional Waypoints feature. If you do not want the coordinates for the additional stages displayed to the public, mark them as “hidden.” Only the cache owner, reviewers and Groundspeak lackeys can view hidden coordinates.

3. Mystery/Puzzle Caches

The information needed to solve this type cache must be available to the general community and the puzzle should be solvable from the information provided on the cache page.

For many caches of this type, the coordinates listed are not of the actual cache location, but a general reference point, such as a nearby parking location. The posted coordinates should be no more than 1-2 miles (2-3 km) away from the true cache location. This allows the cache to show up on the appropriate vicinity searches and means that the mileage of Trackables passing through the cache will be reasonably accurate. Add the final set of coordinates and any additional waypoints to the cache listing before submitting for review.

Before you submit the cache listing, post a Note to Reviewer with an explanation of how the puzzle is solved. This log will auto-delete on publication.

A challenge cache is a variation of a puzzle cache that enhances the geocaching experience. It will typically require the cacher to meet a reasonable and positive Geocaching-, Waymarking- or Wherigo-related qualification. If you are thinking of creating such a cache, please review the additional specifications in our’s Knowledge Book article. For a challenge cache to be created, the CO must have completed the challenge themselves.

Note: Cache owners creating a mystery/puzzle cache will select “Unknown” from the cache types on the cache submission form.

4. Letterbox Hybrids

This cache type pays homage to an older form of scavenger hunt. A Letterbox Hybrid must include significant GPS usage for at least part of the hunt. Letterboxstyle clues may be used to guide seekers to the container, but only if the clues are accompanied by coordinates specific to the hide. The container for a Letterbox Hybrid must include a stamp, which stays with the geocache and may be used by letter-boxers to stamp their personal letter-boxing book. The cache can be logged without using the stamp.

5. Wherigo™ Caches

If a cartridge is used as a requirement or means to find a cache, it is considered a Wherigo cache, regardless of whether it also has a puzzle or multi-cache element. The cartridge must reside at Cache saturation applies only to physical containers and not virtual elements like those that make up a Wherigo cartridge. A device that can play Wherigo is not considered special equipment, so the special equipment attribute is not required for this cache type. Learn more about Wherigo™.

6. Event Caches

Event caches are gatherings that are organized by geocachers and are open to other geocachers. They are submitted at least two weeks prior to the event so that potential attendees will have sufficient notice to make plans. Events are published no more than three months prior to the event date. Events may be published up to six months prior if an overnight stay is expected or if the event is designed to attract a regional or international group of cachers.

For caching events with several elements, multiple event listings may be submitted if each element stands on its own merits as an event, and meets the listing guidelines. After an event has passed, the listing is archived by the cache owner.

An event cache should not be set up for the sole purpose of drawing together geocachers for an organized geocache search. Such group hunts are best organized using a discussion forum or an email distribution list.

If an event is already organized outside of the geocaching community, and/or it would take place regardless whether or not it is listed on, it is likely not an event cache. Examples include music festivals, neighborhood or block parties, and organized sporting events.

Cache owners can include basic information about the location on the cache page, even if it is a commercial location. Event caches, like other geocaches, cannot be published if they do not meet the commercial cache guideline.

7. Mega-Event Caches

Mega-Events are large-scale events and are often held annually. In the first iteration of the event, it is listed as a regular Event Cache. Once an event of this type has documented attendance exceeding 500 people, it may be awarded Mega-Event status by Groundspeak. This occurs at Groundspeak’s discretion and each case is decided on its own merits. A Mega-Event cache may be published up to one year prior to the event date.

In return for publishing your Mega-Event cache, Groundspeak asks that pricing reflects the cost to host the event. Mega-Event caches, like other caches, cannot be published if they do not meet the commercial cache guideline.

Please note that publication of a Mega-Event cache provides exposure to millions of geocachers both on and through our weekly newsletter. In consideration of the significant resources we devote to publicizing the MegaEvent, Groundspeak reserves the right to deny or retract publication of Mega events sponsored by other commercial geocache listing services, as well as parent and affiliated companies, unless written permission has been granted in advance by Groundspeak.

If you are thinking of organizing a Mega-Event, read this article for more in-depth information about requirements and considerations. 10

8. CITO Event Caches

Cache In Trash Out events are gatherings of geocachers to improve parks and other cache-friendly places. Examples of CITO-appropriate activities include treeplanting, trail-building, removing invasive species and removing trash from a designated location. Other organizations sponsor similar activities. These external events could be adapted or developed to meet our cache submission guidelines. To be published on external events will need to designate a portion or section of the larger event to be by geocachers for geocachers.

9. EarthCaches™

Groundspeak partners with the Geological Society of America to administer this educational cache type in which cachers visit a unique and specific geoscience feature. Additional guidelines and rules are listed at For additional guidance about EarthCache development, see our Knowledge Book articles.

10. Virtual and Webcam Caches have been grandfathered.

Virtual caches and webcam caches are no longer available as options for new listings on Caches of these types that existed prior to November 2005, often referred to as grandfathered caches, are exceptions to this rule and may still be active. New listings similar to these cache types can be created as waymarks at

If you currently own a virtual or webcam cache, you must maintain the cache listing and logs, respond to inquiries from cachers, and must check the physical location periodically. Abandoned caches will likely be archived by Groundspeak. Grandfathered caches will not be unarchived.


The information used on this page was used with permission of the author (mmacgown) and the Cache Owner of the Geo-Tech U-5 event  (captainmath) held on 2/7/2015 near Matamoras, PA.  mmacgown presented this information at the Geo-Tech U-5 event

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