Hiking & Trails

Geocaching: Search for treasures in the Valley and beyond

There are two geocaches hidden at Swan Falls Park and Recreation Area.
There are two geocaches hidden at Swan Falls Park and Recreation Area. Special to the Idaho Statesman

Idaho Power’s parks from Hells Canyon to Hagerman offer fishing, picnicking, camping, boating and birdwatching.

Add one more adventure — geocaching.

“A lot of people haven’t been to these places and don’t know we have parks,” said Cindy Sorensen, Idaho Power’s environmental and recreational technician who spearheaded the project. She and other Idaho Power employees and park personnel had fun finding places to hide the geocaches.

Sorensen walked down the road at Swan Falls Park and Recreation Area, about an hour from Boise, on a blustery December day and pointed out one of the geocaches. “They’re in plain sight,” she said. The way to find the caches is by downloading GPS coordinates.

“We thought it would be fun to make a game to get people to visit the parks,” she said. Idaho Power is getting good feedback from geocachers who have zeroed in on the new caches. Geocachers pride themselves on being the first ones to a new cache.

One couple stopped at the parks near Hagerman on the way to Jackpot, Nev., just to add the caches to their list.

Idaho Power’s parks, which are open year-round, make it easy to pursue geocaching. The day-use parks have picnic areas and heated restrooms. Idaho Power campgrounds have electrical hookups for RVs, heated restrooms and shower facilities — even in winter. One of the closest picnic sites is at Swan Falls Dam and it makes a good afternoon drive. A couple of parks in the Hagerman area make good day trips with side outings to hot springs and lunch or dinner in Hagerman.

Parks in Hells Canyon could be put on the back burner for the first campouts or fishing trips this spring. However, the Hells Canyon parks offer countless wildlife watching opportunities in winter.

The geocaches at the parks are challenging to find, but are in easily accessible spots. “They are family friendly and you don’t have to be Indiana Jones to find them,” Sorensen said.

It’s just another way to get out and enjoy the outdoors, and in turn, educate people about Idaho Power’s recreation sites and hydropower facilities, she said.

Get started

Follow the link on this story at IdahoStatesman.com. Or, go to idahopower.com and click on “Our Environment” and then “Recreation.” Click on the Idaho Power Cache Challenge logo on the right side of the page. You’ll have to sign up for a free membership at geocaching.com to search for caches.

How the Idaho Power cache program works

The goal is to collect all 12 geocaches. Doing so probably will take the whole camping season unless you want to drive all over southern Idaho in a long weekend, which isn’t very practical since the parks are hundreds of miles apart.

There’s at least one Powercache at each Idaho Power campsite. Jot down or take a photo of the code printed on one of the cards in each cache. Enter the code online to download an electronic stamp to add to your Powercache Passport. Each stamp contains some of the letters needed to solve a word puzzle. When you’ve collected 12 digital stamps you can solve the puzzle and submit it for a prize. Each Powercache also contains a prize.

What is geocaching?

Geocaching is an outdoor adventure game played by using the global positioning system (GPS). Participants go on a treasure hunt for hidden containers, called geocaches, and share their experiences online. Caches typically are waterproof containers that hold items such as logbooks and trinkets. People and organizations have set up caches all over the world. There are more than two million geocachers and six million geocaches worldwide.

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