Loading Geocaches onto Your GPS

The first step to Geocaching with your Oregon, Dakota or Colorado involves loading geocache data onto your GPS. There are several ways to do this and we will describe two of the easiest methods that will get most people started.

Using Send To GPS

The most simple method of downloading geocaches is to use the SendToGPS button on geocaching.com which allows you to send geocaches to your GPS one at a time. To use this procedure follow these steps:
  1. Connect your GPS to your computer using your USB cable. Ensure that it goes to USB mass storage mode. If you are using a Windows PC the GPS will show up as a driver letter on your PC once the unit displays the computer connected to GPS graphic.
  2. Download and install Garmin Communicator. Once the installation is complete you may need to restart your browser.
  3. Login to geocaching.com and search of a geocache you would like to find.
  4. From the geocache page click the SendToGPS button which will open up a new window.
  5. Verify under the Devices drop down menu that your device is listed. If not, select Find Devices and pick your device from the menu.
  6. Click on the Write button.
  7. This should transfer the geocaching information your device and you should see a message at the top of the window "Geocache saved successfully".

Using Pocket Queries

The second way to load geocaches onto your unit is to use Pocket Queries. This mechanism is a little more complicated and requires a premium membership at geocaching.com but it is the fastest and easiest way to transfer a large number of geocaches to your unit. The Oregon x00, Colorado and Dakota GPSs support up to 2000 unique geocaches. The Oregon x50 supports up to 5000 geocaches. Each Pocket Query can contain up to 500 geocaches.

To download geocaches into your GPS using a Pocket Query we'll walk through an example of loading the closest 500 unfound geocahes to your home location. Pocket Queries are a very flexible tool and more information on howto use Pocket Queries can be found here.

  1. First, you'll need to make sure that you have a premium membership at geocaching.com. Check here and subscribe if you don't already have a membership
  2. Next, login and verify that you have your Home Coordinates set here.
  3. Navigate to your Pocket Query page. Select Create a New Query
  4. Under Query Name give your PQ a name like "Closest Unfound to Home"
  5. Verify that Show me X Caches has 500 caches (this is the maximum).
  6. Under "That (and)" check, That I haven't Found and I don't own.
  7. Under "From Origin" select "My Home Coordinates"
  8. You may want to add additional filters at the time but the settings above will generate a PQ that contains the 500 closest caches to your home coordinates that you haven't found and you don't own.
  9. Select Submit Information
  10. Select Preview Query and verify that the caches on the list look the ones you would expect. If not you may need to return the PQ page and modify your settings.
  11. Once you are happy go back to your Pocket Query page and check the current day of the week.
  12. Now wait! Usually in a few minutes, if the servers are not too busy, you should receive an email at the email account registered with geocaching.com. Once that mail arrives you can continue to the next step. If you don't get an email verify your email account in your profile and check the message boards to make sure pocket queries aren't down. If you are still having problems check the pocket query page to see if your PQ has been deliver (you may need to refresh). If it has but you still haven't received an email check to see if you Spam filter may have filtered the email.
  13. The pocket query email contains a .zip file with a name like 3790862.zip. Unzip using a Tool like WinZip or Window that file to your Desktop and extract two .gpx files.
  14. Connect your GPS to your computer using your USB cable. Ensure that it goes to USB mass storage mode. If you are using a Windows PC the GPS will show up as a driver letter on your PC once the unit displays the computer connected to GPS graphic.
  15. Copy both .gpx files from your Desktop the following folder on your GPS: [GPS drive]:/Garmin/GPX
  16. Disconnect your GPS and power on
  17. From the Main Menu select Geocaches and verify that you can see the geocaches on your GPS device
  18. Now you are ready to go hunting!

Geocaching Setup on the Dakota and Oregon

Before you go caching the first time there are two configuration options on your GPS you should be aware of first.

Under Setup>Geocaching you can set your find count using the Found Geocaches option so you can display the count on the odometer dashboard (shown below). The Geocache List option determine whether you will see GCID's (ie. GCGAE9), select Show GC Codes, or geocache names, (select Show Names) when you look at various lists on the GPS. You can switch this at any time.

Geocache configuration
Geocaching options
Search type configuration
Geocaching dashboard

Finding a Geocache Using the Oregon or Dakota

Planning your Hunt

Now that you have geocaches loaded onto your GPS you'll want to go find one! First, a little information on how to find your way around the Geocaching menus so you can plan your hunt.

From the Main Menu you select the Geocaches Tool, this brings you to a page where you can either select a cache from the unfound list, Find a Geocache, or show the found list, Show Found. Select Find a Geocache to continue.

Geocaches Tool
Search unfound list

Once you are on the unfound geocache list page you have the option to spell-search the cache name using the A,B,C button or scroll and select a geocache directly from the list. Selecting a cache from the list brings you a page that displays the cache on the map. This map page can be panned and zoomed which lets you select nearby child waypoints, which is helpful if you are looking for parking. Selecting the button on the top brings you the cache description page.

Pick a cache
Map view

The cache description page combines the description and the logs similar to what you would see on geocaching.com. At this point you have the following information about the cache:

  • Cache name
  • Cache type (symbol)
  • Difficulty rating
  • Terrain rating
  • Cache size
  • Number of trackables
  • GCID
  • Owner
  • Coordinates
  • Short and long description
  • Child waypoints
  • Logs (Pocket Queries include the last 5 logs)

You cannot read the hint at this point - you have to navigate to the cache first, but we'll get to that in a minute. There aren't any scroll buttons on the cache page so you need to "pull" page up and down with your finger to see the entire page and all of the logs.

Cache description
Child waypoints and logs

At any point during this process you can hit the big green Go button to start navigation. This will put you back on the map page with the familiar magenta goto line. If you quit the map ("X" in lower left corner), you'll end up back on Main Menu where you can select all of the tools (i.e. Compass, Altimeter, etc) that are available to you when you navigate to a waypoint or POI.

Trackables, then hit Go
Map page with navigation

You might be asking, "How do I go back and read the description, log the cache, etc"? Simply go back to Main Menu and hit the Geocaches Tool again. Selecting the Geocaches Tool with an active navigation gives you a different set of menu options:

  • Show Description (works the same as above)
  • Show Hint: Displays the hint for the cache if there is one
  • Show Logs: Displays just the cache logs (helpful if the cache description is very long)
  • Log Attempt: Logs the cache as found, not found, unattempted or needs repair (we'll discuss this in the next section)
  • Find Another: View the unfound list
  • Show Found: View the found list.

Geocaches w/navigation
Log cache

Navigating to a Geocache and Logging Your Attempts (Field Notes)

You are finally ready to use the paperless geocaching feature of your GPS! Using the menus above start navigating to a geocache:

  1. From the Main Menu select Geocaches.
  2. Select Find Geocache
  3. Scoll or spell search (A, B, C button) to find the cache you want to search
  4. Select the geocache from the list so that you see the map page
  5. Press Go
  6. Use the Map or Compass page to navigate to the geocache.

Tip: Make sure Dist to Next is one of the visible data fields on your Map or Compass page.

Logging your Finds