Exploring Geoheritage Through EarthCaching

Activity Source: 

Adapted with permission by Geological Society of America.

An EarthCache is a special site that people can visit to learn about a unique geoscience feature or aspect of our Earth. Visitors to EarthCache sites can see how our planet has been shaped by geological processes, how we manage the resources and how scientists gather evidence to learn about the Earth.

EarthCaches are part of the greater global adventure game of Geocaching. Unlike traditional geocaches, which are hidden containers with a logbook that people hide and seek using a GPS, EarthCaches have no container. Instead of signing a logbook, visitors to EarthCaches have to undertake an educational task related to the geoscience of the site. In this way, a visit to an EarthCache is a learning experience as well as a wonderful outdoor activity in which the whole family can participate.

Many EarthCaches are situated at locations that represent the best of our shared geoheritage. For example, there are a number of EarthCaches located near Mt. St. Helens, such as “The Big Bang” at the Johnston Ridge Observatory, that help teach the story of the volcano’s geologic and cultural importance.

Educators can learn more about Mt. St. Helens and its connection to our nation’s geoheritage by joining GSA for a Teacher Field Camp http://doiop.com/geoventures during the summer of 2017. This camp takes place at Mt. St. Helens July, 2017.


  • Computer with Internet connection
  • GPS unit or smartphone with free Geocaching app


  1. Visit an EarthCache to learn about geoheritage. Go to www.earthcache.org to view a list of EarthCaches in your area.
  2. Once you select the EarthCache you wish to visit, print the latitude and longitude coordinates along with any informational pages that you may want to have with you.
  3. Enter the latitude and longitude for the EarthCache site into your GPSr by creating a new waypoint.
  4. Set your GPSr to the waypoint you just entered to find that location.  Your GPSr will take you to within 15 feet of your EarthCache site.
  5. Take notes and answer the questions posed to you by the EarthCache listing.  
  6. Once you are back in the classroom, you can log your visit by clicking on the EarthCache that you visited.  You can rate the EarthCache, record your answers to receive credit, and upload photos.


Once you have visited several EarthCaches, you and your students may decide to take your EarthCaching skills to the next level by creating your own EarthCache.  To learn more about creating your own EarthCache, visit www.earthcache.org and download the free teachers guide!