A new geocaching program offers modern-day treasure hunters an exciting adventure filled with a variety of challenges, rewards, and bird-brained fun!
The Minnesota State Parks and Trails Geocaching Avian Adventure will take you across Minnesota—discovering the hidden gems of the state and revealing exciting facts about Minnesota’s favorite friends of flight.
Centered on Minnesota bird life, Geocaching Avian Adventure will begin this Saturday, June 9 (National Get Outdoors Day), offering long-time and novice geocachers the chance to learn about native avian life and the challenge of finding new caches in state parks, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
Adding to the incentive, all state park admissions will be free on Saturday, in celebration of Get Outdoors Day.
A Geocaching Avian Adventure Bird Cache has been hidden and waiting to be discovered in all 75 Minnesota state parks and recreation areas, as well as on one state trail. Your challenge is to locate the Bird Cache using a hand-held GPS (global positioning system) unit.
Most sites have multi-caches featuring several hidden caches with quizzes and puzzles to solve; all have a collectible Bird Card in the final cache.
Each camouflaged Bird Cache includes an instruction card, the Bird Guestbook (logbook), and a collectible Bird Biome Card specific to the state park, recreation area, or state trail.
Each Bird Card is color coordinated to one of the states four distinct natural communities or biomes. Also included in the cache may be small trinkets left by a previous geocacher. If you find a trinket, it’s your to keep. If you choose, leave a trinket in return for the next Avian Adventure geocacher to find.
The clues to their exact whereabouts will be posted at 8:00 a.m. June 9 on the DNR website, mndnr.gov.
“Everyone who participates will get a little better acquainted with Minnesota’s birds and biomes along the way.”
GPS demonstration parks provide free tips and equipment for beginners.
At 25 designated geocaching demo parks, GPS units can be checked out for free, and Geocaching 101 workshops will provide hands-on instruction for first-time geocachers.
Geocaching 101 programs are scheduled in each region of the state:
- Northeast Region – Friday, June 8, 1:00-1:30 p.m. at Gooseberry Falls State Park (Two Harbors)
- Northwest Region – Saturday, June 9, 2:00-3:00 p.m. at Buffalo River State Park (Glyndon)
- Central Region – Saturday, June 9, 10:00-11:00 a.m. at Interstate State Park (Taylors Falls)
- Southern Region – Saturday, June 9, 1:00-4:00 p.m. at Camden State Park (Lynd) and 7:00-8:00 p.m. at Sibley State Park (New London)
Since the Geocaching Wildlife Safari began in 2009, the interpretive naturalists at Minnesota state parks have offered 325 Geocaching 101 programs that have reached more than 9,000 participants. GPS units were checked out from the demo parks more than 2,754 times in 2011 alone.
What Is Geocaching?
Geocaching is a high-tech treasure-hunting game played by people with GPS devices throughout the world. The object of the game is to find the cache and then sign the logbook to show other geocachers that one has found the location. Some geocachers leave items near the cache for others to have.
What Is a Biome?
Minnesota is rich in natural diversity, providing essential habitat for a variety of plants and animals, especially birds. Minnesota is home to four major biomes, named for the dominant or most common plants that grow there: prairie grassland, deciduous forest, coniferous forest, and tallgrass aspen parkland.
Some birds are found in only one biome while many move between or across different natural communities. Minnesota State Parks and Trails preserve and manage significant fragments of these essential natural landscapes, making them great sites for birds, and for parks and trails visitors, too!
There’s gold, and it’s haunting and haunting;
It’s luring me on as of old;
Yet it isn’t the gold that I’m wanting
So much as just finding the gold.
—Robert Service, The Spell of the Yukon