There are a handful of cache finds that are considered a rite of passage for geocachers: the Original Stash Tribute Plaque in Oregon, the A.P.E. caches and Mingo (the oldest surviving geocache in the world), to name just three. While these caches may enjoy a special status (and deservedly so), they are all classic hides: a cache container that you have to hunt for and sign the log. Geocaching Headquarters, however, is a truly unique ‘find’. I have visited HQ twice in the last few years, and thought I would put together a post on what you can expect when you visit, as well as what you should definitely not miss. It really is like no other cache you’ll find.
Planning Your Visit
Geocaching HQ is a working office, and visits can only be scheduled during normal office hours (Monday – Friday, between 9am and 5pm, excluding holidays). The office is located in Fremont, a quirky neighbourhood of Seattle, well worth a visit even without a trip to HQ.
There is a form on the GeocachingHQ.com website where you can provide details of your visit. It’s not necessary to complete it outside the peak season, but it helps the team to plan ahead. You can also let them know if your visit coincides with a special occasion or milestone. Visits last up to one hour, which is plenty of time to take everything in at the visitor centre.
Once you’ve taken photos/selfies under the Geocaching sign hanging outside the offices, you will enter the visitor centre, where the reception desk is located on the right. Here you will be greeted by a lackey, who will give you a little background on HQ and geocaching.
Find the Cache
While the Geocaching Headquarters cache might be listed as size ‘other’, once you’re inside the visitor centre, it is hard not to miss the very definitely ‘large’ container holding the logbook and an array of trackables!
If you bring trackables with you that you want to drop off, be sure to check their goals beforehand to save time. There are separate containers depending on where a travel bug or geocoin wants to go.
Strike a Pose in the Photo Booth
Arguably the most fun part of the HQ visit is the photo booth! Props are provided and each time you use it, you’ll get a strip of four different photos (have your props ready to switch really quickly!). The booth prints two copies of each strip, one for you to keep and one to stick in the photo album that stays at HQ.
There is a stack of photo albums chock full of pics from the last few years, and I was able to find my photos from my visit in October 2015. The photo strip is a great memento of your trip to HQ.
Discover Rare Trackables and Become a Travel Bug!
There is a whole bunch of really cool and rare trackables on display at HQ, including a travel bug that has been in space! When we visited last year, there was also a giant travel bug, so you can turn yourself in to a trackable!
Try Not to Spend All the Money
Actual, real-life geocaching stores are few and far between, so it was a real treat, as well as an agonising struggle, to peruse the wares on sale at Geocaching HQ. Of course, you don’t need to buy anything as a memento because you’ll have your pics from the photo booth for that, but if you are able to visit and not buy anything – particularly the coins only available exclusively at HQ – please tell me the secret of your amazing self-control!
On our visit last year, there were Signal colouring pages too, including a Signal headband. I’m almost certain that these are there for kids, but you know, it was quite difficult not to take a headband to wear at events!!
Do the GeoTour & Explore Fremont
Arguably the best part of visiting Geocaching HQ is its location in Fremont. Frequently referred to as the ‘People’s Republic of Fremont’, the neighbourhood is the epitome of quirky and cool. The good folks at Geocaching have tried their best to ensure you don’t just visit HQ and run by setting up a GeoTour, highlighting just some of what is wonderful about Fremont.
Not only does the tour take you on a walk around the fun neighbourhood, the actual caches are pretty great too! The 9 caches have racked up an impressive 11,695 favourite points at the time of publishing. It took me about 2 hours to complete all 9 caches. Make sure you leave plenty of time to really take in the sights and sounds of Fremont. Don’t forget to download and print the HQ GeoTour passport in advance, so you can mark each square with the stamp you find in the cache. Once you’ve found all 9, take your passport to HQ and they will stamp it with your completion stamp! (Passports are also available at HQ if you forget to print!)
Visiting Geocaching HQ is a great and memorable experience and the unique cache type, as well as the souvenir, make it all the more worthwhile. Have you been to Headquarters? What was the highlight of your visit?
© 2018 | Sarah McLarkey | All Rights Reserved