Remember when you were a kid and all you wanted to do was go out and hunt for hidden treasure? Rediscover the thrill of the treasure hunt with the all-ages sport of geocaching. Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunt that involves using handheld GPS devices or smartphones with GPS apps seek out caches that other users have hidden.

You can explore Albany via GPS by seeking out one of the nearly 700 caches hidden within 10 miles of city. If you'd like to see your efforts rewarded with something special and you enjoy a challenge, try your hand at geocaching during the annual Northwest Art & Air Festival–the Albany Visitors Association sponsors the annual Albany Art & Air Challenge; find every location on the list and you’ll be rewarded with a commemorative GeoCoin. Albany's annual GeoPicnic–a special gathering whose location is advertised using only GPS coordinates–draws visitors from around the Northwest.

Click here for information the 2014 summer geocaching challenges.

Albany is a great location to use as a home base for exploring Northwest geocaches. Besides the thousands of caches hidden nearby, several official GeoTours in adjacent Lane County, Albany is only an hour and a half by car from The Original Stash—the very first geocache ever placed. In May of 2000, a 5-gallon bucket containing a Delorme Topo USA, 2 CD Roms, a cassette recorder, a "George of the Jungle VHS Tape, a Ross Perot book, four $1 bills, a slingshot handle and a can of beans was placed in the forest and its GPS coordinates posted online. Within three days, two people had trekked out to the woods to find it. The original bucket (and can of beans) is long gone, but you can still navigate your way to the commemorative plaque at The Original Stash during your trip to the Willamette Valley.

For geocaching newbies, the Albany Visitors Association hosts occasional geocaching classes. For more information about geocaching in the Albany area, get in touch with SWAG: the Santiam-Willamette Area Geocachers.

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