Washington State Parks

Washington State Parks (WSPRC) supports geocaching through a permit system, as defined in its Geocaching Directive. In 2012, the State Parks collaborated with WSGA on revisions to the Geocaching Directive to make it more geocaching-friendly, and created an online form to streamline permit requests.

WA State Parks Geocaching Directive (PDF file)
Cache Placement Permit (fillable form in Microsoft Word)

In 2013, the Washington State Parks Centennial GeoTour was a centerpiece of the system’s centennial celebration – “100 caches in 100 parks for 100 years.” This hugely successful collaboration between WSGA and the State Parks demonstrated the value of geocaching as a recreational activity, and helped both parks personnel and geocachers become familiar with the cache-permitting process.

Revisions to the Geocaching Directive

For those familiar with the original Geocaching Directive (2006), there are key changes that show support for geocaching on park lands as well as a clear requirement that all caches be permitted:

  •  Permits must now be now approved by only two sources, park managers and stewardship. (Previously, it was three.)
  • Permits are no longer renewed annually. They can have unspecified end dates, unless the park manager decrees otherwise. Existing one-year park permits are deemed converted to permanent ones.
  • You are no longer required to physically check caches every 90 days. “Adequate oversight and maintenance” can be handled via monitoring of online logs, with visits only as needed to keep the cache in good condition
  • WSGA is identified in the Directive as the organization representing geocachers in Washington State.
  • If a cache has issues and/or must be removed and the owner is not responsive, WSGA will be notified and given a chance to handle the situation before the cache is disposed of.
  • Cache owners are no longer automatically liable for restoration costs associated with adverse impacts from a geocache placement.
  • All pre-existing caches in State Parks must be permitted and comply with the Directive.
    Placing Geocaches in State Parks.
Placing Geocaches in State Parks
  1. Read the Geocaching Directive carefully to ensure you understand the guidelines for cache placement and maintenance.
  2. Visit the park and choose your cache location. Be sure to note details of the physical location as well as the coordinates, as you’ll need them for the permit form.
    • Avoid dangerous areas, such as cliffs, areas prone to rock slides, the banks of swift-flowing rivers, etc.
    • Caches must be accessible from existing trails, and no more than 10 feet from the trail, unless otherwise approved by park personnel. (No bushwhacking!)
  3. Contact the park to let them know you want to place a geocache, and get the contact and email for submitting your permit request.
  4. Fill out the Cache Placement Permit electronically (it’s a form in Microsoft Word), save a copy for yourself, and email it to the park contact. You may also want to provide photos of the location and proposed container.
  5. Wait to hear back from the park contact on approval of your permit. It may take several days or weeks, depending on their workload. (Permits must be approved by the park manager or designee and the regional stewardship manager.)
    • When your permit is approved, you will be notified and receive a signed copy.
    • If your permit is not approved, you will also be notified, and you may want to talk to the park contact about other placement options.
  6. Place the physical cache. The container should be clearly marked on the outside as a geocache and should be watertight, durable, and contain a stash note that explains what the container is and what to do if found by accident.
  7. Create the cache page. Include relevant park information, such as:
    • Permit language (see below). This is required on all cache pages.
    • Park hours. Most State Parks have posted hours, which should be listed along with any other relevant park rules (seasonal closures, pet restrictions, etc.). Most parks have a page on the State Parks website where you can find this information
    • Discover Pass. Most parks require a Discover Pass to park, so it’s a good idea to mention it and include the link for more information. http://www.discoverpass.wa.gov
  8. Submit your listing for publication. Groundspeak reviewers require confirmation that caches in WA State Parks have permits, so include a Reviewer Note that states you have an approved permit and provide the park contact information for verification.

Park personnel have the final say about all geocaches within Washington State Parks. If you have issues that cannot be resolved amicably, please contact WSGA’s Park Liaison Manager for help.

Permit Language for Cache Pages

The following notice, including logo, must appear on the pages of all approved caches in Washington State Parks, per the Geocaching Directive.

  1. 1. This geocache has an approved Permit to be placed at this location on property managed by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission. Visitors are responsible for acquainting themselves with policies and rules pertaining to State Parks areas.
    2. The following items may not be placed in the geocache: food, illegal substances, medications, personal hygiene products, pornographic materials, hazardous materials, or weapons of any type.
    3. By searching for the cache, visitors agree that they are responsible for their own actions, and acknowledge that neither the State of Washington nor the cache owner is responsible for any loss or injury that may occur in relation to such search.
    4. Report any incident, problem, or violation to State Parks staff.

Below is the HTML code for the notice. Note that you must have the “The descriptions below are in HTML” box checked in the Details section. This also means the rest of your Long and Short descriptions should have HTML tags, or you’ll just have a big blob of text.

Copy and paste this text, exactly as it appears, at the end of your Long Description.

<!— Begin State Park sanction =–>
<hr />
<a href=”http://www.parks.wa.gov/”><img src=”http://www.wsgaonline.org/images/stateparklogo.jpg” align=”left”></a></td>
<table>
<tr>
<td>
<font face=”Verdana” size=”1″ color=”#218429″>
<ol>
<li>This geocache has an approved Permit to be placed at this location on property managed by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission. Visitors are responsible for acquainting themselves with policies and rules pertaining to State Parks areas.</li>
<li>The following items may not be placed in the geocache: food, illegal substances, medications, personal hygiene products, pornographic materials, hazardous materials, or weapons of any type.</li>
<li>By searching for the cache, visitors agree that they are responsible for their own actions, and acknowledge that neither the State of Washington nor the cache owner is responsible for any loss or injury that may occur in relation to such search.</li>
<li>Report any incident, problem, or violation to State Parks staff.</li>
</ol>
</font>
</td>
</tr>
</table>
<!— End State Park sanction =–>