The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

Geography - Tourism Planning and Development: M.S.


Geography and Planning


School of Public Affairs

First Advisor

Randal Baker

Second Advisor

Kyle Ward

Third Advisor

Hung-Chih Alvin Yu

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

State Parks, Geocaching, Geography, GPS, Interpretation, History, Natural Resources, Naturalist


Since its invention in 2000, geocaching is enjoyed by enthusiasts who wish to combine technology with a love for the outdoors. Geocachers use Global Positioning Systems (GPS) receivers and satellite data to search for latitude and longitude coordinates all over the world. Upon locating the coordinates, participants can find anything from a hidden object to a scenic viewpoint. Aside from fostering outdoor recreation, geocaching can serve as a useful tool to promote learning about the natural resources and history of the area being explored.

It was proposed that those who participated in geocaching at Wild River State Park in Minnesota had the potential to develop an enhanced understanding of park history and natural resources through hands-on, self-guided interpretation. Wild River State Park set up their caches to foster learning, as participants were required to solve clues and puzzles relating to the park's history, flora, and fauna in order to find a cache.

Using qualitative research, participants were surveyed and interviewed about their geocaching experiences. Results were derived via quantitative data analysis (surveys) and qualitative data analysis (interviews). Findings indicate that 71 % of survey participants and 100% of interviewees believed their knowledge of Wild River State Park's natural resources and history increased as a result of geocaching. Motivations including travel, spending time with family and friends, and enjoyment were cited as the top reasons to participate in geocaching by interviewees.


Thank you to my mentors at St. Cloud State University; your enthusiasm kept me motivated during this project. Dr. Alvin Yu spent many hours teaching me methodology; I am grateful for the interest you showed in my work. Thanks to my adviser Dr. Randal Baker for his geocaching expertise and to Dr. Kyle Ward for his positive attitude.

To the rest of the Geography Department at St. Cloud State University, thank you. Although I was not able to take classes with each professor, I felt I knew all of you through the exchanges and greetings we shared in passing. Dr. Gareth John, thank you for your eternal support and encouragement. I appreciate your willingness to welcome me into your office and talk through my work. With your urging, this research was presented at the Association of American Geographers annual meeting (2011), which proved to be an invaluable academic experience.

My friends and classmates provided moments of fun and relaxation among the stress of finishing this research. Thank you to Rupak Shrestha for being a source of unending enthusiasm for all things geography. Eric Ege, thank you for your GIS expertise in developing the map used in this project. I would like to thank my husband, Nick, for accompanying me on some of the research trips to Wild River State Park.

Thank you to Dave Crawford and Kacie Carlson of Wild River State Park for accommodating me during my research trips. This project would not have been possible without your help and support.

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