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Geocachers can find ‘treasure’ in Surry County

December 27th, 2007 · No Comments

Wondering what to do with that GPS (Global Positioning System) unit that Santa left under the tree? Consider “geocaching,” a high-tech scavenger hunt for hidden treasure in “caches” scattered around Surry County.

GPS device sellers reported holiday sales up a whopping 488 percent over last year, according to market research firm NPD Group. With GPS technology available in cell phones, vehicles and hand-held devices, geocaching is growing; more than 490,000 caches have been hidden worldwide, according to

Some of this treasure is within your reach in Surry County.

Geocaching is an interactive way for people to explore a county beyond its typical tourist attractions. Geocaching also can attract tourist dollars. This summer the city of Asheville will actively promote The Ultimate AsheCache, a site-seeing expedition in Buncombe County to find hidden treasure valued at more than $1,700.

“Adventure travel,” including geocaching, is a growing niche in the tourism industry. Half of U.S. adults (98 million) have taken an adventure trip in the past five years and they are taking their children and grandchildren with them, according to the Tourism Industry Association.

Hikers have done “letterboxing” — leaving letters or notebooks in caches to be signed by fellow travelers — for more than 150 years, but geocaching did not take off as an activity until 2000 when the U.S. military allowed civilian access to its high-resolution, satellite-based global positioning system.

The oldest geocaches in Surry County date to 2002, if not earlier. The county — already a popular tourist destination for hikers, bicyclists, motorcyclists and other outdoors enthusiasts — became a popular site for geocaches after reporter Bryan Gentry, then with The Mount Airy News, wrote an article about local geocaching in 2003.

Surry County also is an access point for the Blue Ridge Parkway with its many geocaches.

North Carolina is home to more than 9,900 active caches registered on

Tags: Tourism

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