Geocaching the Northwoods

Geocaching is a sport that has exploded in popularity the last several years.  It involves using a GPS device to find “caches.”  Caches are usually in interesting places, and they often have a weatherproof container with a log book and some simple prizes inside.  There are micro caches that don’t have any prizes – just a log sheet.  And there are also “earth caches”, which have nothing to mark them, but highlight an interesting natural feature.   This is a wonderful way to explore the Vilas area, whether you are a visitor or a long time resident.

Contents of a cache found in winter


You need a computer and a GPS device to join in.   Go to to find caches. To give you a sense of how popular this has became, I went into and did a search using Eagle River’s zip code and this came up.  It shows that there are 20 caches within 3.1 miles.   And there are hundreds more caches as you go further out.  geo screen shot

One of our favorite things about geocaching is that it brings us to great backcountry locations that we didn’t know about.  Although there are a lot of caches that are along roadsides or in other easily accessible spots,  by looking over the descriptions on the web site, you can find those that are more wilderness oriented.  Some of our favorites include:

  • Pine River Dam
  • Speaking Softly
  • Rainbow Point
  • Sheltered Valley
  • Last Stop
  • Ajibokoka Falls
  • Our all time favorite is “Norwich View” in the Upper Penninsula, but wait until summer and be prepared – it is really difficult!

All of the caches listed here are difficult and will require some hiking into the wilderness.  There are scores of eaiser ones – just explore  Also, many of these may not be accessible in the winter.  In each cache’s description, it will say if it is “winter friendly”.

     Last Stop Cache:

Last Stop Cache

Norwich View Cache

Norwich View Cache

Another nice thing about Geocaching is that it is a great way to get kids interested in the outdoors.  The technology angle combined with the outdoors element of the sport is often very appealing to young people.  Younger kids will love looking through the caches to find a prize they like.

Geocaching at the Northwoods Children's Museum

Geocaching at the Northwoods Children’s Museum

I have avoided getting into the details of how the web site works.  Exploring it and finding places to go is half the fun!  You will need to sign up, providing a user name and password.  But it is free – the premium upgrade isn’t necessary unless you get really serious about the sport. Check out and find some quiet places to visit.  If you love solitude in the outdoors, this is for you.

Barbie "travel bug" at Bond Falls

Barbie “travel bug” at Bond Falls


2 thoughts on “Geocaching the Northwoods

  1. Stefan Anderson January 17, 2013 at 1:47 pm Reply

    Thanks for promoting geocaching in the Northwoods. I especially like the photos. I was trying to describe the “Last Stop” bus to a friend and now I can point them to the picture.
    Keep up the good work!

  2. Barry Butrymowicz February 16, 2013 at 3:38 am Reply

    Was sent a link to this weeks post about the animal tracks on the Wisconsin Geocaching Association Website, and went back thru the posts to this one. Thanks for highlighting one of our caches, and it is a honor for you to think it is your “all time favorite” we thought the same thing when we did the hike the first time, (it took 2 trips up to find the first stage) we had the opportunity a couple of years ago to adopt this cache, and keep it active. Thanks again for highlighting it,

    Barry and Valarie Butrymowicz (sweetlife on Geocaching)

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