Policy & Guidelines

Washtenaw County Parks & Recreation Commission (WCPARC) Geocaching Policy

The Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Department is pleased to support the sport of Geocaching. We also recognize the need to maintain a safe and aesthetically pleasing park system while protecting the county's natural resources for residents enjoyment.

If you desire to place a cache, or have already done so, in a Washtenaw County park or preserve, please note that Washtenaw County has developed guidelines for placement and maintenance of caches. The purpose of the guidelines is to protect natural areas and the safety of all visitors, as well as to provide for the future use of county-owned lands by geocachers. Permits, obtained at no cost, are required to place a cache on county owned public parks and preserves.

General Information

  • Participants will comply with all guidelines for both the Geocaching.com and Michigan Geocaching organizations.
  • Participants will comply with all Washtenaw County park and preserve rules.
  • The Parks and Recreation Department reserves the right to remove any cache, registered or unregistered, without notification.
  • Please help maintain our parks and preserves by practicing Cache In, Trash Out (CITO).

Geocache Seeking Guidelines

  • Please do not disturb the surrounding environment in any way.
  • Respect existing trails and do not create any new ones.

Geocache Placement Guidelines

  • To place a cache in a county park or NAPP preserve, you must be granted a permit. Permits are free and may be obtained online (PDF), or in person at:
    Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Administration Building
    2230 Platt Road
    Ann Arbor, MI 48108
  • Forms may be submitted electronically, in person, or mailed to:
    P.O. Box 8645
    Ann Arbor, MI 48107

Process for placing a cache:

  • File permit and obtain permission from WCOARC Director, or his designee, for the location of the cache. All geocaches must be registered prior to placement and publication. Due to sensitive areas within our parks and preserves, the location of the cache is subject to the approval. Upon receipt of the permit application the cache location(s) can either be approved or rejected, or require modifications to the location of the cache.
  • Upon approval, the cache can be placed. Place the cache according to the permit and the geocaching organizations guidelines.
  • Register your cache on geocaching.com and submit it for publication. You will need to provide the cache reviewer with a copy of your approved permit before the cache will be published.
  • Place the cache so people can use the established trails as much as possible.
  • Think safety! Place your cache in a safe area, thinking about the safety of the people who will be searching for the cache.
  • Cache locations must be naturally occurring hiding spots. There can be no trees cut, pruned or have things attached to them with nails, screws or other fasteners; holes dug; vegetation removed or planted; nor new items brought in such as sculptures, boxes, etc. No caches can be placed in birdhouses, nests or animal dens.
  • Containers and hiding locations should be chosen wisely to avoid citizen alarm. Containers must be waterproof or sealable with a size no greater than 8 by 12 by 18. Clear (see through) containers are preferred. The use of all pipe, PVC and metal is forbidden.
  • Caches can remain in place for one year from the date of the approved permit. After that date, the cache must be removed or re-permitted. This is done to protect areas from foot traffic.
  • Parks and Recreation staff must be notified when a cache is removed and/or archived.
  • Please note that prescribed burns are conducted in County Parks and Preserves; staff will notify cache owners of planned burns at least several days in advance of possible burns.
  • Offensive, illegal or dangerous items are not allowed in any cache.
  • Caches placed to promote commercial, political, religious or other social agendas are also not allowed.