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The Great Outdoors

By Meghan Godby

If you’ve lived in Wheat Ridge for a while, you’re probably familiar with Crown Hill Park, located on the corner of 26th and Kipling. The 200-plus-acre park boasts breathtaking views of the foothills, 10 miles of trails and a close proximity to the Wheat Ridge area. Its popularity is unmistakable – each day, hundreds of local residents walk, run or bike its gently rolling terrain. But how many notice the treasure hidden right beneath their feet?

Geocaching (a modern treasure hunt) is a relatively young hobby - it was born nearly two decades ago in the year 2000 and has a strong following all over the world. Essentially, it involves locating smaller containers (or caches) using GPS coordinates. Some are very small and include only a modest logbook to sign, while others are larger, full of little trinkets and toys for trade. The types of caches, rules and terminology of geocaching are beyond the scope of this article, but information is plentiful if you’re curious.

Perhaps the best part of geocaching is that it’s fairly simple to get started. The only equipment you need is a GPS device or a GPS enabled phone.

It’s also a great way for families to get outdoors and experience something new together.

Interested? Geocaching.com is a great place to start. It’s a well-respected website full of helpful tips, forums, FAQs and more. After a quick sign-up, your free membership will allow you to search for hidden caches anywhere in the world. The search engine is robust - you can view the points on a map, search for distance, difficulty (i.e., how easy is it to find?) and more. These features are plenty for a casual user, but they do offer a premium membership that will unlock additional features and search filters.

Wheat Ridge is a smaller community, so you may not expect a search to turn up much, but the results may surprise you. There are over 2,000 caches within a 10-mile radius of the city center (five in Crown Hill alone), and if you’re willing to drive a little further (30 miles), that number soars to nearly 10,000.

Is it possible to find all the caches hidden in the world? Of course not - and that’s not the point. It’s not about checking a box or competing with someone else, but rather exploring the world around you, slowing down to savor unnoticed bits of nature and cityscape. It’s a treasure hunt for all - building community through a glorious shared adventure. So log on to your computer, break out your GPS and get out there – there's a cache waiting for you!