Swaner Preserve is a destination for geocachers
Geocaching is like going on a treasure hunt with a digital map.
Anyone can go geocaching by using a GPS device or a geocaching app on a smartphone, said Jen Groves, Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter visitor experience and program leader.
“Geocaching is a craze across the world, actually,” Groves said during an interview with The Park Record. “It gets people outside, and it’s an activity that anybody can do.”
There are seven geocache boxes on the Swaner Preserve and the Swaner EcoCenter rents out GSP units for $5 for EcoCenter members and $10 for nonmembers during business hours — Wednesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., according to Groves.
“You can actually geocache 24/7 to be honest, but if you need to rent out a GPS unit, you would have to do that during EcoCenter hours,” she said. “If they rent a unit, they should return it during business hours that same day or they will have to pay another full-day fee. But I’d say the vast majority of people geocache outside of EcoCenter hours because they have a GPS or Garmin app on their phones. It’s just a matter of knowing how to work a GPS, and that’s something we can teach at the EcoCenter.”
Part of the idea of offering geocaching is to get people out on the 1,200-acre Preserve.
“We have three geocaches on the south side of the Preserve, a couple of which are really close to the EcoCenter,” Groves said. “We have four located on the north side of the preserve. So if people would head over to the Spring Creek trailhead, which locals call the Glenwild trail, they can find four over there. A couple are close to the trailhead and a couple are much further way.”
Placing the boxes in different locations and proximities make it possible for anyone to geocache.
“We often welcome families with toddlers and preschoolers who go for the caches that are close to the EcoCenter and short walking distance away,” Groves said. “We’ve also had groups of senior citizens geocache as well.
“Many of the novice geocachers who visit the Preserve walk away satisfied because the geocaches weren’t too far away,” she said. “And people who have been doing this for a while are also happy with our course, as well.”
Some of the boxes contain educational cards.
“That way, we can teach people a little bit about the Preserve,” Groves said. “Most of the boxes also have what we call swag, which are essentially trinkets, and you will come up on these boxes and find some treasures. Sometime there are little collectable pins or toys and trading swag is part of the fun.
“When people come upon those boxes, they are free to take the trinkets, but must replace them with items of the same or greater value,” he said. “People can buy little things at the EcoCenter’s gift shop to put into the boxes.”
Also, the EcoCenter staff has placed logbooks at each geocache.
“We ask people to sign the books so we can see who has been there and when they were there,” Groves explained. “Not everybody writes where they are from, but our geocaches are published on a website called geocaching.com, so anyone from anywhere in the world can go online and see all the geocaches we have.
“We know there are people who don’t come into the EcoCenter, but have found out about our geocaching through that website, and they leave us messages about how fun it was and how beautiful our preserve was,” she said. “They tell us they saw sandhill cranes and mule deer.”
Many people who stop in to rent a GPS unit are tourists.
“They tell us they are passing through Park City to participate in our geocaching program,” Groves said. “We get a lot of locals as well. For example, we’ve had lots of summer camps come and geocache with us. And we offer geocaching for groups. They can visit our website to find out more about that.”
Since the geocaching is done on the Preserve, geocachers should wear comfortable shoes and use sunblock.
“They also should definitely have water, especially in the summer time, because some of the geocaches are exposed and there isn’t a lot of shade,” Groves said. “Hats and sunglasses are also good things to have, as well as snacks, especially if you’re geocaching with kids.”
The Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter, 1258 Center Dr. at Kimball Junction, will host geocaching adventures Wednesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. GPS devices can be rented at the Swaner EcoCenter for $5 a unit for members or $10 a unit for non-members. For more information, visit http://www.swanerecocenter.org/preserve-ecocenter/geocaching-adventures.html.