Geocaching guidelines at Parks Canada

These guidelines outline Parks Canada's approach to managing geocaching in protected heritage areas.

Description of Activity

Geocaching is an outdoor treasure hunt. The goal is to find hidden containers known as “caches” or “geocaches” using a portable satellite navigation device called a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver.

People who geocache (referred to as “cachers” or “geocachers”) place a cache in an outdoor location and post the cache's latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates online.

Other geocachers then use their mobile or GPS devices to try to find the caches. Once the participant has found a cache, they may log their findings online.

There are different types of caches:

  • Physical caches may include a logbook, pencil, and / or trade items (small objects left in caches for geocachers to trade with one another – e.g. toys, key chains, etc.)
  • Earth caches highlight an area’s unique natural features.

More information regarding different types of caches and geocaching in general can be found at:

Geocaching at places administered by Parks Canada

Trade items are not permitted in caches placed in national historic sites, parks and marine conservation areas managed by Parks Canada. Instead, an educational message about the cache’s specific or general location is included.

National Direction

Geocaching is an activity that can occur in areas managed by Parks Canada. While geocaching is embraced by Parks Canada at the national level, it is important to note that geocaching may not be permitted at all of the places administered by Parks Canada..

Where the activity is encouraged, additional guidelines could be developed in order to meet location-specific needs.

For more information regarding geocaching at a specific location, individuals should contact the selected historic site, park or marine conservation area directly.

Activity Guidelines

These guidelines set out a basic national direction for geocaching at national historic sites, national parks and national marine conservation areas managed by Parks Canada.

In addition to the list below, geocachers must also comply with the:

  1. Travel on marked and maintained trails or in publicly accessible areas (e.g. picnic areas) at all times.
    • All caches must be accessible from the trail or the public area
    • If marked and maintained trails do not exist, geocachers must check with Parks Canada staff where a cache may be placed
  2. Trade items are not permitted in caches.
    • Instead, a message or story about the cache’s specific location or about the national historic site, park or marine conservation area in general is included
    • These messages will encourage a focus on the special natural or cultural features of the cache location
    • Not including trade items helps prevent caches from containing items that may attract wildlife
    • A historic site, park or marine conservation area can choose to act as an intermediary so that the geocachers can obtain or leave trade items
  3. Geocachers pay all applicable fees.
  4. Caches must not disturb natural (e.g. vegetation, soil) and / or cultural resources.
  5. Caches are permitted in zone II, III, IV and V areas in national parks.
    • Individuals should contact Parks Canada staff directly for more information about zoning in a specific national park
  6. Prior to placing a cache, geocachers must meet with Parks Canada staff at the selected location to discuss the proposed location of their cache and to obtain an authorization seal, prior to placing a cache.
    • complete a cache information form. [Word (705 KB) PDF (107 KB)]
  7. Cache containers will:
    • be watertight
    • be made of material that will withstand wind, rain, frost, and other natural elements
    • be as small as possible
    • be neutral-coloured so that they do not stand out in the natural environment
    • not have been used for food. These are not permitted as odours could attract wildlife
  8. Caches should include a:
    • logbook (in a sealable bag to protect it from humidity)
    • pencil and pencil sharpener
    • note for finders [Word (705 KB) PDF (107 KB)] that includes:
      • an educational message about the cache’s specific location or about the historic site, park or marine conservation area in general
      • a clear message directing finders not to leave trade items in the cache and providing the rationale as to why (to prevent a cache from containing items that may attract wildlife)
      • instructions for people who find the cache by chance
      • the cache’s coordinates to confirm that the correct cache has been found
      • Parks Canada staff contact information and the cache owner’s name and/or screen name and contact information in the event that the cache is in need of maintenance or needs to be removed from its location

For more information

Contact a Parks Canada staff person at the location you are planning to geocache.

For general information, e-mail

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