How Do You Know If A Geocache Is Still There? [Solved!]

So you want to find a geocache. But let’s face it; it can be frustrating to go and do all the hard work only to figure out the missing cache. 

Don’t worry, though; in this guide, I will give you a detailed walkthrough on how to make sure that the geocache you want to find is still there, along with some helpful tips and insights. Ready? Let’s jump in!

How Do You Know If A Geocache Is Still There?

The most common way to know if a Geocache is still there is to check the “Activity” section of the cache in the Geocache app. If there are lots of recent entries of users finding that cache and overall positive reviews, there’s a high chance the geocache is still there.

Here’s a step-by-step process on how to choose a geocache and make sure it’s still there:

  1. Log into the official Geocache app.
  2. Then, explore the geocache in your locality or the place you prefer. The cache should be visible as a “green” dot icon.
  3. Once you click on that green icon, further details about the cache open up.
  4. Now, the app will show you several details about the cache, like Difficulty Rating, Terrain Rating, Log, Description, Activity, Attributes, and Navigate options. We will discuss these topics ahead, but the main thing to ensure a geocache is still there is to focus on the “Activity” section.
  5. Click on the activity section to see a list of recent entries. This activity section is where you will find reviews and thoughts from actual Geocachers who recently attempted to find that particular geocache.
  6. Go through the activity section, check the dates, and see what the users say. If you notice a lot of positive reviews highlighting they found it, there’s a high chance you will find it too. If the reviews are pretty recent, like 1-3 months, you can be more confident that the geocache is still active.
How Do You Know If A Geocache Is Still There

So go ahead and start exploring that cache. New to geocaching? Here’s a guide to what geocaching is and how it works. Check it out for more detailed insights about the hobby.

How Long Do Geocaches Remain Active?

On average, a geocache will remain active in any given place for at least 2-3 years from when it was first published. Some geocaches are still found in locations as old as 15-20 years. While some geocaches may go as archived (a sign of cache not being maintained or becoming inactive) in 6 months.

First and foremost, weather can affect the geocache. For instance, think of a cache container made up of low-quality plastic that is not watertight. It won’t be able to last windy conditions, snow, or rainfall.

These types of caches typically go inactive only after they have been found 3-5 times. Often, they will be marked in the archive section.

Pro-Tip: One way to tell a geocache has turned out to be inactive is to look at the color of the cache icon. The gray color icon signifies that the cache is not active anymore. Moreover, if you see a lot of DNF (Did Not Find) reviews, it’s better to not go after those caches.

cache archive

Another reason a cache may only remain active for a short time is if it gets damaged or misplaced by others. The term Muggle describes people unaware of the geocaching hobby in the geocaching community.

Sometimes, non-geocachers/muggles can misplace or damage the geocache even unintentionally. They could be thinking of a container as trash and throwing it away.

Geocaches placed in a location where they are not easily accessible by muggles are less likely to get misplaced or damaged.

So, weather and damage by others are some factors that can affect the longevity of a geocache. However, remember that it’s also not uncommon to notice caches that are way older, 15 years or even more!

Now that you know about the longevity of geocaches, you may also wonder how long it will take to find a geocache. So I highly recommend reading the guide to learn more about it!

Geocaching App Details: Quick Overview

You’ll find the following details when you open a Geocache icon inside the Geocaching app. Knowing these details is crucial for a better geocache selection.

  1. Difficulty Rating – This rating highlights how challenging it would be to find any cache. If you’re just starting, avoid choosing a cache higher than 2 star rating.
  2. Terrain Rating – This rating highlights how the terrain would be. It’s best to select Geocaches with less than 3 ratings. As you go above 3, the landscape becomes more challenging which won’t be suitable. For instance, you may have to swim or go through a long hike to get to your cache. If you’re concerned about the safety, check out this geocaching safety guide for more insights.
  3. Size – The size section denotes the container size that will have the cache. If you’re just starting, choose only the medium or large-sized caches. Small-sized caches may be hidden more creatively, and it could be challenging to discover those caches. But as you gain more experience with the hobby, you can attempt to go after the small or caches.
  4. Description – This is the section where you’ll find a short blurb about the cache. It helps you as a user to get more details about the cache, its location and other relevant information.
  5. Attributes – This section will include specific instructions about accessing the cache. If a cache involves any specific skill like tree climbing or anything else, such details will be mentioned here. So you can quickly scan through the section to decide whether or not you’d like to go after.
  6. Activity – The activity section of the cache shows all the recent entries and reviews of people who went to find the cache before you. This is where you will find the exact information to ensure a cache you’d like to discover is still there.

What To Do If You Can’t Find A Geocache?

If you can’t find a Geocache, there’s nothing to panic about. It can surely happen that a geocache is not active anymore. In such a case, you can mark the Geocache as DNF – Did Not Find.

Doing this ensures that future geocachers don’t have to undergo trial and error. Take note that if a cache is not well maintained, it can disappear with time. So, marking your Geocache as DNF is a good standard practice.

cache dnf.jpg

Final Thoughts

In short, to know if a geocache is still there, take a closer look through the “Activity” section in the Geocaching app.

Also, it’s crucial to remember that every geocache has a set longevity period before they go inactive. And that happens due to reasons like weather conditions or interference by non-geocachers.

If you’re just beginning, start with an easy geocache. Then, as you gain more experience, you can select more challenging geocaches

The best part of geocaching is the joy of discovering the caches rather than the caches itself. Isn’t it? So don’t hesitate to jump on the trail and find your first cache with your friends and family members. Happy Geocaching!


I have been camping and going outdoors for over 15 years! My first experience was when I joined the scouts. There I learned a lot. From building a campfire to set up a really big tent. Then I know this is awesome. Around 2005 I also started Geocaching. This is a lot of fun. And every time we go camping we look at the map to see if there are some nice caches around.

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