You Cannot Find the Geocache?

There are often many reasons why you cannot find the geocache, and we do not know of one single geocacher that has been able to find every single geocache that they have tried to locate.

You arrive at the GZ, at least where the GPS is telling you that the GZ is, and you look and wander and look and nope, can’t find it. Why? Let’s explore some of the reasons why you cannot find a geocache when you arrive at the right location, the geocache’s  ground zero, at least according to your hand held GPS.

GPS Limitations

That little GPS unit you are holding in your hand is tracking your location on earth and relating it to the position of a number of satellites up in the sky. The perception is that a GPS device will deliver pinpoint accuracy. Or, another perception might be that a more expensive GPS will be more accurate in finding a specific GZ than one that is less expensive. We don’t believe either of these.Garmin hand held GPS unit

The fact is that a GPS device will usually only bring you close to where a CO has hidden a cache in the ground zero, perhaps within 1-5 yards. Consider that if the CO used their GPS to locate the geocache on a cloudy day, or if it’s a cloudy day when you are searching, that affects the accuracy of the GPS signal and could mislead you as to where the GZ actually is. Are there trees overhead? That affects the GPS accuracy too, and could appear to give you a false GZ location as well.

This has happened to us! The cache GZ was in the middle of a paved parking area. So there we stood, pavement all around, puzzled as to how a CO could hide a cache in pavement! (Note: some wily CO’s may do just that, but they are not the norm… perhaps thankfully.) We used our developing geocache sense,  looked around the area where the GZ was supposed to be, and the logical hiding place close to the GZ popped out at us and we found the cache. We didn’t even have to dig up the pavement to do it!

Before you decide that you cannot find a cache, look around the immediate vicinity. Where is the logical spot to hide a geocache? Odds are good that’s right where it will be.

But, you cannot find the geocache still?

Is the geocache even there?

If you are using a comprehensive geocache device like one of the Garmin series then your device will be able to show you the last few logs for that cache. That log information for that cache will be as current as when you last updated the pocket query in your GPS for the area you are searching.

If every current log on this geocache shows found, then bet that the geocache is still there, and spend some more time searching.

However, if every recent log reports a DNF, then it is possible that the cache may be gone. Muggle activity could be he cause, or perhaps the geocache was destroyed by heavy rain, blizzard, high winds… who knows?

Read the logs, see what other geocachers have said about finding this cache. This will give you clues as to whether you want to spend more time searching for this one, or deciding that you cannot find a cache and moving on to the next one. Even if the previous logs say that it’s been found recently, you can always come back another day and try again. There are millions of caches out there. Don’t get too hung up on one that you just cannot find.

Hidden geocache

Shown in the image just above, this geocache was only visible from one angle of view, yet, since this tree was the only logical place it could have been near the GZ which was near the center of a road, that’s where looked and that’s where we found it.

The CO just wanted to make the geocache as hard to find as possible!

There are a group of geocache players who take great delight in hiding caches in such a way that the geocache is near impossible to find. It means that many newbie geocachers, and lots of long-term players as well, will not be able to find their cache.

But that doesn’t make these difficult-hiding cachers bad people. If you have been playing the game for a long time, then you will have seen almost every type of geocache hide there is. “Time to make this more exciting; let’s hide a cache that nobody can find…” they might think. And they try to do just that.

Well, that’s the name of the game, isn’t it? Some caches will challenge even the longest playing geocacher. Can’t find it? Logs show that it’s been found recently? Had enough with this one? Move on. There are lots more to find.

Well camouflaged hidden geocache

See how the camo tape blends this geocache into the tree bark! That’s making this geocache harder to find.

If you try to locate a cache that’s been found recently by other cachers and you cannot find it yourself, have a look at the find records of the geocacher’s that are finding it. Check them out on the  If other geocachers are finding the cache and despite your best efforts you cannot, odds are good that the finders are geocachers with a lot of experience in difficult caches. Either keep trying, or save this one for another day. Make a note about that cache ID and resolve to go find this one another time. One day you will find it, and then you will be the geocacher finding that cache that the other newbies try and cannot!

Did You Log A DNF?

Please, if you try and cannot find a cache, make sure you log it as DNF on the website. Your DNF could be the one that reminds the CO to go out and check to make sure the cache is actually still there. When they do, typically the CO will make a note on the cache log to tell others that the cache is fine (or it’s been replaced) and is still there even if the current logs only show DNF’s. Some caches are an absolute witch to find. Doesn’t mean they are gone, just really, really well hidden.

And still, you cannot find a cache? More info here.


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