Geocache puzzle?
February 6, 2011 6:19 PM   Subscribe

Suggestions for geocache puzzle?

I'd like to create a geocache that incorporates a puzzle to solve. What types of geocache puzzles have you enjoyed or think you would enjoy?
posted by Sissinghurst to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I've seen several whose web pages at include a crossword or mathematical puzzle that must be solved in order to obtain the true coordinates of the final site. Some of these can be figured out in advance just by reading the page; others require a visit to the initial GPS location for personal observation ("Count the number of red fence posts", "What is the name on the third headstone from the left in the final row at the cemetery?", et cetera). One of my favorite puzzle-ish caches (which in fact I never solved) involves a container that is sealed with a combination lock. You have to figure out the three-digit combo based on nearby clues.
posted by Midnight Creeper at 6:29 PM on February 6, 2011

This is more of a theme for a geocache puzzle/loot, but if there is a street or small town nearby that shares the name with a larger famous city or thing, you could have the hints and loot be based on the larger city, but lead to a point in the street or small town. The example that came to my mind is that there are lots of cities and towns named "Paris," so you could stash postcards and an Eiffel Tower in the geocache and have all the hints be things about the "real" Paris.

This sounds like fun. Good luck to you!
posted by shortyJBot at 6:35 PM on February 6, 2011

I went on a multi-stage geocaching outing in Germany last year which had a puzzle at each step. The first three puzzles had the coordinates on the web, and then at each point you had to answer a fairly easy question, with a numeric answer, and those three numbers formed the next coordinate. From then on, each box had part of the next coordinates in it with a couple of digits missing that had to be competed from the puzzle. Here are my favourites:

There was a tree under which the cache was hidden, that had a row of nails in it. Inside the cache was a little telescope. You had to balance the telescope on the nails, and look through it. Then you saw a little number (which was a sticker on a telegraph pole off in the distance. You would never have spotted it otherwise).

There was a test tube and a little bottle of dish detergent (I think that was so it wouldn't freeze - in warmer climates you could just use water). Also a syringe with ml measurements on the side. You had to fill the test tube with the dish detergent from the syringe, and the answer was the number of mls the test tube could hold.

There was one that had a spirit level in the cache, and on various trees or logs in the nearby area (up to 10 metres away), there were nails to hang it from or balance it on, at various angles. You had to first find the nails, then write down the angles the spirit level hung at.

There was a photo of where a cache was, but it had been cut into pieces (digitally, I guess) and jumbled up, so you had to try and recognise it anyway.

There was a cache with an actual jigsaw puzzle in it, which, when assembled, was a picture of the next cache location.
posted by lollusc at 6:55 PM on February 6, 2011

You could use a Sudoku grid - put letters in the corners of some of the empty squares, then when people solve the puzzle, they'll be able to solve a coordinate clue (N 148 ab' cde", E 25 fg' hij").

Use sub-caches containing wooden dowels of different sizes to create a series of scytale cipher rods. Collect, say, three rods and three cipher scrolls, work out how to match them up, then use the three messages to point to the final cache location.

Plaques on public monuments are a great source of dates and other numbers that can serve as parts of a coordinate, as can tombstones if you live near some famous dead people.

A series of numbers that refer to bus or train routes and stop numbers, at which you hide further clues in urban-scale mini caches (eg film canister under bench).

Churches are great for clues - figures in stained glass windows, numbers engraved in pews etc. Ditto for obscure reference texts in libraries that can't be borrowed and are rarely moved - page / para / word references are great for clues.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 8:00 PM on February 6, 2011

My favorite, and my only FTF, was in San Diego. You were given coordinates and had to find a cylindrical container, attached with fishing line and dropped into an open pole on a playground, with sheets of paper inside. There was a rambling bit of nonsense on them and a grid of 1's and 0's, let's say 40x56. The trick was to discover that the grid could also be 35x64 and, when so transformed, the digits revealed a couple of picture clues and a easy-ish cypher that revealed the coordinates. (The cache was hidden near a house shaped like a space-ship, so the grid-picture was an alien and an x.) Kept me up until dawn, redrawing the grid. Genius.
posted by beetsuits at 11:19 PM on February 6, 2011

I've always wanted to encrypt a message using the solitaire algorithm and leave the message, a keyed deck of cards, and the URL above in a cache. Coordinates would be a pain, as solitaire only accommodates A-Z... but maybe the message would be a super-secret URL which in turn provides coordinates to a super-secret cache, or something.

I've never gotten around to it because part of me assumes that my carefully-laid, time consuming plans would be wrecked by someone coming along and just taking the cards without regard for the enrypted message; a deck of cards is a pretty sweet prize compared to anything you find in caches around here.
posted by usonian at 6:11 AM on February 7, 2011

One of my favorite caches was at a Veterans' Monument (GCKQC4) featuring ten life-size sculptures representative of participants from the American Revolution through the Persian Gulf War. To find the location of the actual microcache, you had to answer several questions about different aspects of the monument (e.g. "Number of canteens the Vietnam War soldier has."). Once you had the correct numbers, you plugged them in to complete the coordinates. Loved it!
posted by shannonm at 6:00 PM on February 7, 2011

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