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How to Make a Puzzle Geocache

written by: •edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 12/1/2009

Along with the fun physical activity, part of the appeal of geocaching is the thought process that goes into finding a geocache. If you are making a geocache, consider creating a puzzle that will help geocachers find it, as well as making it more of a challenge.

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    Your options for making a geocache puzzle are limited only by your imagination. Read on for a few puzzle ideas that will help you get started creating a puzzle geocache. Since a GPS must be used in order to find a legitimate geocache, remember to at least begin with some type of coordinates, such as those to a parking area near the cache.

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    Decipher the Code

    Making a Geocache Puzzle Code 

    If you ever had a secret decoder ring or solved encryption puzzles, you should enjoy making this type of puzzle geocache. Create a code by listing the alphabet on a sheet of paper or word processor page. Next to each letter, write or type another letter, a number, a symbol or a picture to represent the original letter. Make sure no two letters have the same character. This will be the key for your puzzle.

    Once you have created the key for your code, write a clue or the coordinates to the geocache. Use your code key to encipher the message. When you provide the coordinates or a clue to your puzzle geocache, write the message in code.If you are providing coordinates, spell out each number in code for geocache hunters to solve. Instead of N42.45374, you could spell out N four two . four five three seven four.

    You may want to provide two or three letters, or you can give the message without any hints to make it even more challenging.

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    When making the geocache puzzle, you can create several mini-caches along the way. Provide the coordinates to the first mini-cache. At this cache leave a riddle that leads geocachers to another spot with the next coordinates. "Although I am strong and healthy, my name might suggest I am languishing. I will never grow one single leaf, yet I am known for year-round greenery. At the base of my trunk, you will find your next coordinates." This riddle refers to a pine tree (the word pine can also mean to languish, and pine trees have needles, not leaves).

    Provide coordinates at the next cache that will lead geocache hunters to another riddle. You can use as few or as many puzzles as you like. A shorter hike would call for fewer mini-caches along the route.

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    Invisible Message

    Write the coordinates of your geocache puzzle in invisible ink. You don't have to buy anything special; use lemon juice or equal parts baking soda and water. Use a cotton swab, toothpick or small paintbrush to write your message. Anyone wanting to find your puzzle geocache will need to hold the paper near a light bulb or source of heat, such as a campfire. The message will appear in a brown hue when heated.

    Another option is to purchase special blacklight-reactive ink or glow-in-the-dark ink. Your coordinates will only appear under a blacklight or in the dark.

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    Unlock the Geocache

    Making a Geocache Puzzle: Lock 

    A final idea for making a geocache puzzle is to provide the coordinates the same as you would for any geocache. Provide a clue, as well, that will result in a single word or three-digit number. Use a container for the geocache that you can lock with a padlock. Buy a special padlock that has letters instead of numbers and set the combination to the single word for which you gave a clue. Or provide a challenging math problem that results in the combination of a standard numerical padlock.

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    More Ideas

    For more ideas on making a geocache puzzle, read the Bright Hub article Making a Geocache Puzzle More Interesting.