2011-02-24 / Community

National Park Service launches outdoor scavenger hunt program for the adventurous

The National Park Service recently unveiled a new park activity in the Santa Monica Mountains known as “parkcaching.”

This activity is much like geocaching and offers an outdoor scavenger hunt using a global positioning system (GPS) with an educational theme that teaches the adventurer about the mountains.

With more than 1 million active geocaches worldwide, geocaching is one of the fastest growing GPS activities. The National Park Service is experimenting with ways to offer GPS experiences while eliminating the litter and other potential environmental damage the game can cause.

In “parkcaching,” the rangercreated “caches” encourage visitors to explore the mountains with a GPS unit and learn about the nation’s largest urban national park. At Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, each “parkcache” contains a unique collector card.

When all six cards are collected, an iconic image of the park is created. Visitors can find these accessible sites year-round.

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area is one of the first parks to have long-term geocaches in a national park. The National Park Service also has a number of popular EarthCache sites, which are virtual caches that showcase interesting or unique geology. In the Santa Monica Mountains, a popular EarthCache site leads visitors to the top of Sandstone Peak, the highest point in the mountains.

To kick off the new caches and introduce people to GPS technology, rangers will lead a series of events and lectures in the park this spring.

For dates, times and locations, download the spring issue of the park’s quarterly journal Outdoors at www.nps. gov/ samo/ plan yourvisit/events.htm.

For more information, visit the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area GPS Activities page at www.nps. gov/ samo/ planyourvisit/gpsactivities.htm or e-mail Park Ranger Mike Theune at mike_ theune@nps.gov.

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