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Minnesota Geocaching History Challenge
Minnesota Celebrates Sesquicentennial with Geocaches
Minnesota has just begun a year-long celebration of its 150th birthday—and its state parks are inviting both new and experienced geocachers to join in the fun.
As part of the Geocaching History Challenge,  every state park in the North Star State has an official sesquicentennial geocache that will be active until at least the end of the year. The caches were placed with the help of the Minnesota Geocaching Association  (MNGCA).
A primary goal of the Geocaching History Challenge is to encourage families to explore the Minnesota state parks, so the caches are relatively easy to find and require only an easy hike. Also, the cache containers are ammunition cans, so first-time cachers don’t have to worry about trying to find microcaches! Some caches have two or more stages, but the final cache will always be the official ammo can. State park officials are encouraging individual park managers to be creative in using cache placement and contents to show off the unique history and/or natural features of their parks.
Each of the 72 official caches contains baseball-style “history cards” about that particular park. The more parks you visit, the more different cards you can collect. If you find all the caches in a given Minnesota state park region (there are four regions), you’ll be eligible to receive the coordinates of a special regional cache. Find that cache, and you’ll be given a commemorative regional medallion. If you manage to visit all individual park caches plus the four regional caches, you’ll get the coordinates to the 72 Park Challenge cache, which contains a special history card that you can show to receive a golden medallion. There will also be 150 Minnesota sesquicentennial bronze coins placed in the caches at various times during the year. And, each park has released a geocaching travel bug whose mission will be to visit all of the other 71 caches.

To encourage participation in the challenge by newcomers to geocaching, 16 Minnesota state parks have been designated as GPS Demo Parks. These units have GPS receivers that visitors can borrow for free, along with instructions. Many of them are also offering “Geocaching 101” classes.  The GPS Demo Parks are:
• Northwest—Glendalough, Lake Bemidji, Lake Carlos
• Northeast—Gooseberry Falls, Jay Cooke, Savanna Portage, Split Rock Lighthouse
• Central—Afton, Father Hennepin, Fort Snelling, Mille Lacs Kathio, William O’Brien
• Southern—Camden, Myre Big Island, Lake Shetek, Upper Sioux Agency

The Minnesota Sesquicentennial Geocaching History Challenge demonstrates how fun and educational geocaching can be on public lands. Kudos to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for not only adopting geocaching-friendly policies, but then going above and beyond by putting together this exciting geocaching challenge. If you live in Minnesota or plan to visit this year, be sure to check the official Geocaching History Challenge website  for cache listings, maps, and much more information. Have fun!

Originally published on June 10, 2008.



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