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Geocaching Rules

By Austin Explorer

Austin-area geocachers have thus far avoided some of the confrontational issues that have hounded others elsewhere. This is due to cachers in the area using common sense and realizing that some limits to placing caches must be expected. These pages will provide common sense guidelines for hiders and searchers. Where they exist, we also provide rules and regulations for the placement of caches on park properties under the various jurisdictions in the area.

First, some general, common sense rules for anyone who searches for geocaches:

  • Never trespass on private property on the hunt for a cache.
  • Never leave food or drink in a cache as they may attract animals that will damage the cache.
  • Never leave any item in a cache that is not suitable for viewing by children. There are lots of families who cache together.
  • Never log a cache find unless you actually find the cache. If the cache is missing then report it to the cache owner.
  • Never log a virtual cache until you have confirmed the find with the owner or via Austin Explorer's auto-confirm web pages.
  • Always rehide a cache exactly as you found it. The cache owner may have taken extra effort to make the cache difficult to find. Respect their intentions.
  • Above all, have fun!

There are also some site-specific geocaching guidelines that may come into play when you decide to hide a cache. Refer to the guidelines below when considering the placement of a cache on lands under the jurisdiction of the following organizations:

City of Austin Parks Guidelines

In general, there are no issues with placing geocaches within the boundaries of Austin Parks. There is one exception to this rule. Several parks administered by the city of Austin that are part of the Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Program and other preserve programs. These operate under some federal wildlife mandates and have different objectives than normal neighborhood parks. Placing geocaches in some parks administered as part of preserve programs is not allowed.

This is an incomplete list of Austin Parks that allow public access but operate under guidelines that normally do not allow for normal geocaches to be placed:

LCRA Park Guidelines

There are no known guidelines for placing caches in Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) parks. However, Tom Lane (threelanes) has worked with the authorities at LCRA's McKinney Roughs facility to place the McKinney Rough Tough Challenge. It probably makes sense to ask for permission before placing caches in McKinney Roughs.

City of San Antonio Parks

According to this page on the official San Antonio site Geocaching is not allowed in any city parks. It's not 100% certain whether this is dated information or truly current SA policy. Proceed with caution.

Travis County Parks Geocaching Rules

  • Geocache sites may be either virtual or the person creating the site may leave a Geocache box at the site.
  • The person creating the Geocache site will provide the park manager with contact information including name, address, phone number, and Geocache site listing. This person will also notify the park manager when the site has been removed.
  • If a Geocache box is left in the park, the park manager must approve the location prior to the box being placed. Park staff will check the box regularly for safety purposes. If visitors going to the box are causing environmental damage, park staff will remove the box from the site and notify the Geocache box owner to pick up the box and remove the site from the Geocache Website. If visitors are causing environmental damage to a virtual site, the person who created the virtual site will be notified to remove it from the Website.
  • Geocache boxes should include no food, drugs, alcoholic beverages, glass or hazardous items.
  • The virtual Geocache site or box should be located in an area that is not environmentally sensitive and does not pose a danger to visitors or the environment.
  • If located in a wooded area, it should be located in an area to encourage Geocache searchers to stay on the trails (or within a few feet of the trails). Generally, Geocache sites should be placed along trails or in open public areas.
  • No digging is allowed.
  • No Geocache signs will be allowed in the parks.
  • The person putting in the Geocache site, as well as people searching for the Geocache site will follow all park rules.

If you have additional questions, please contact one of the following Travis County Parks employees:

Main Contact: Dan Perry or Kurt Nielsen
Phone: (512) 854-9437

Alternate Contact: Jeff Allbritton, Park Ranger Supervisor
Phone: (512) 263-9115
Email: jeffrey.allbritton AT co.travis.tx.us

Alternate Contact: Kevin Connally, Resource Management Specialist
Phone: (512) 854-7213

Conclusion

If you encounter any issues with authorities when hiding or finding caches that are not covered by the rules on these pages please let us know. By keeping this repository of information up-to-date information Austin-area cachers can continue to enjoy the hobby with relatively few restrictions.

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