VIRGINIA STATE PARKS
Geocaching and GPS activities
Geocaching in a Virginia State Park is a great way to combine technology with good old-fashioned outdoor fun. The basic concept is that someone places a cache in the woods, usually a small container with a log book, and people use modern GPS receivers to find it. It has been described as, “Using a multi-billion dollar satellite system to find Tupperware® boxes in the woods.” Once a cache is found, the seeker goes to www.geocaching.com to log the visit, upload a photo and read what others said about the cache. This is also where participants find lists of caches and coordinates needed for the GPS unit (see How to Find Caches in Parks below).
Geocaching can be an activity that you use to add fun to a camping trip, or it can be the main reason to visit a park. Most state parks have at least one geocache within its boundaries. The caches range from simple quick grabs easily reached from a park trail to more challenging multi-caches that require one to solve a puzzle or collect information at one site before you can move on to the next. Some are Virtual Caches, Earth Cachesor Waymarks, which locations without an actual cache box. Participants usually have to log a visit to this type of cache by answering a question only he or she would know as a result of the visit, or by sending in a photo taken at the site. Waymarking has its website at www.waymarking.com.
Letterboxes are an earlier type of treasure hunting that uses detailed directions and navigation clues to find the stash. A letterbox usually contains an ink stamp that the finder uses to record the visit, and the finder likewise leaves his or her personal stamp in the logbook. Visitwww.letterboxing.org for more information.
Before placing a geocache or letterbox in a state park, see:
State Park GPS Activities
In addition to public caches, many parks have developed special games, nature trails and activities that use GPS technologies. Some activities are set up on a permanent basis so families and individuals can drop by to play while others are set up for scheduled groups. Contact individual parks for more information.
Don’t have your own GPS receiver? It’s not a problem if you want to go geocaching in a state park. Each park has rental units available (except when they are being used by scheduled groups), and staff can help you program coordinates for caches within the park.
How to Find Caches in Parks
The best way to find caches before your visit to a park is to go to geocaching.com and search for caches by coordinates. Here’s a list of coordinates for each state park in Virginia:
|Bear Creek Lake||N||37 31.834||W||78 16.136|
|Belle Isle||N||37 46.768||W||76 35.550|
|Caledon||N||38 19.915||W||77 8.735|
|Claytor Lake||N||37 3.449||W||80 37.266|
|Central Office||N||37 32.261||W||77 25.896|
|Chippokes Plantation||N||37 8.717||W||76 44.319|
|Douthat||N||37 54.243||W||79 48.018|
|False Cape||N||36 38.528||W||75 54.142|
|First Landing||N||36 54.980||W||76 2.462|
|Fairy Stone||N||36 47.921||W||80 6.574|
|Grayson Highlands||N||36 37.406||W||81 29.903|
|High Bridge Trail||N||37 18.427||W||78 23.208|
|Holliday Lake||N||37 23.986||W||78 38.458|
|Hungry Mother||N||36 53.039||W||81 31.608|
|James River||N||37 37.418||W||78 47.969|
|Kiptopeke||N||37 10.354||W||75 58.606|
|Lake Anna||N||38 8.478||W||77 49.048|
|Leesylvania||N||38 38.544||W||77 11.898|
|Mason Neck||N||38 38.557||W||77 11.833|
|New River Trail (Foster Fall)||N||36 53.035||W||80 51.379|
|New River (Cliffview Station)||N||36 40.866||W||80 55.083|
|Natural Tunnel||N||36 42.236||W||82 44.287|
|Occoneechee||N||36 37.828||W||78 31.625|
|Pocahontas||N||37 23.084||W||77 34.984|
|Sailor’s Creek Battlefield||N||37 18.609||W||78 13.316|
|Shenandoah River (Andy Guest)||N||38 51.751||W||78 18.455|
|Sky Meadows||N||38 59.139||W||77 57.546|
|Smith Mountain Lake||N||37 5.498||W||79 35.478|
|Staunton River||N||36 41.868||W||78 40.622|
|Staunton River Bridge||N||36 53.002||W||78 42.368|
|Southwest Virginia Museum||N||36 51.825||W||82 46.797|
|Twin Lakes||N||37 10.539||W||78 16.725|
|Westmoreland||N||38 9.255||W||76 52.351|
|Wilderness Road||N||36 37.871||W||83 29.877|
|York River||N||37 24.719||W||76 42.849|
|Breaks Interstate Park (Va.-Ky.)||N||37 17.183||W||82 17.611|
Safety and Stewardship for Geocachers
- Use existing trails to travel to GPS waypoints whenever possible.
- Do not damage plants, trees, animal nests, etc. Practice Leave No Trace™.
- Comply with all signs and barriers.
- Do not disturb soil or landscape. Geocaches are never buried.
- If the area looks unsafe, don’t go that way.
- Pay attention to surroundings. Look back as you go in so that you’ll recognize the way out.
- Cache In – Trash Out: Never litter, and pick up for those who may have dropped something.
- Notify park staff if you see anything that needs attention.
Nearly all parks charge a parking fee. Failure to pay the fee, even if you only leave the car for a short while, will result in a fine. We have honor parking when the contact station is not staffed. Be sure to follow directions. Discount annual passes are sold at the park and through our Reservation Center at 1-800-933-7275.