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Geocaching In Wisconsin

Geocaching is an outdoor sport involving the use of a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver to find a hidden waterproof container.

Rules for geocaches in Wisconsin

For your safety and the safety of other geocachers, the Wisconsin Geocaching Association asks that all geocachers placing caches in Wisconsin abide by the following rules set forth by and by the local, state and national bodies which govern public land in Wisconsin.

You are responsible for any caches you place, so make sure you know the rules for the area you choose. We encourage you to place a cache in a location that is unique in some way. The big reward for geocachers, other than finding the cache, is the location.


Earthcaching is similar to geocaching, but instead of finding human-placed items, participants seek out natural features and landforms. In Wisconsin, the Ice Age Trail Alliance has developed a Cold Cache Program, which is a series of glacial earthcaches along the 1,000-mile Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

Earthcaches are allowed in many places, as long as their location does not make someone violate any of the property's rules to find them.

Before placing a cache

Ask permission of the landowner. If the land is managed by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, do this by filling out a notification form with all proper information and submitting it to the appropriate DNR land manager. Do not place your cache until this step is completed.

For contact information, see the public lands webpage. If you are not sure of the land designation, contact the nearest DNR service center.

The land manager reserves the right to remove the cache at any time with proper notification to the placer.

Cache contents

Do not place the following items into caches:

  • Food of any kind.
  • Pocket knives or weapons of any kind.
  • Illegal items such as drugs.
  • Material restricted from minors; tobacco, adult publications, alcohol, etc.

Cache locations

Caches are not allowed in sensitive areas and never in the following specific properties:

Dangerous or private land

Do not place a cache in an area that could cause geocachers to cross dangerous or private land during their approach. Consider from where geocachers might approach and how they might hunt your cache. Remember that their GPS readings could easily be off from your posted coordinates by 100 feet or more. If warranted, provide parking coordinates and notes to allow a safe and permissible approach to the cache.

Do not place a cache within 150 feet of railroad tracks. The right-of-way along the tracks is private property. Remember the error range of the typical GPS receiver when placing a cache anywhere near a railway.

Surrounding caches

When placing a cache, be sure that it is at least 528 feet (0.1 mile) away from any surrounding caches. This includes all waypoints of surrounding multi or mystery caches.

Commercial locations

If you place a cache or a stage of a multi-cache hunt within a commercial location, keep in mind the prohibitions against commercial caches. If a fee, purchase, or solicitation (monetary or otherwise) is required to gain access to the cache or waypoint, the cache is not allowed. Caches placed to promote commercial, political, religious or other social agendas are also not allowed.

Virtual caches

When placing a virtual cache, the cache waypoint(s) must be a physical, stationary item(s). They cannot be a view, trail, or beach, for example. Finds of virtual caches must be verifiable only by a visit to the location, and not by research in other manners. Emailed photos at the cache site are also acceptable means of verification.

Never bury a cache

A cache is considered buried if it must be dug up by hand or by tool. Placing items such as rocks, bark and logs over a cache is not considered burial, nor is placing a cache into a naturally occurring crevice or hole. If a shovel, trowel or other pointy object is used to dig to hide or find a cache, it is not appropriate.

Be responsible for your cache

There is no time limit for placement of the cache, but it is recommended the cache be monitored at least quarterly.