Uncovering the World of Geocaching with Bryan Roth.

Show Notes


Uncovering the World of Geocaching with Bryan Roth

After leaving his attorney job in Manhattan to move to Seattle, Bryan Roth's journey to find a new passion leads to the unexpected creation of Geocaching.com, a global game that has changed the lives of many but is now threatened by a powerful government decision.

I love being in Seattle. I love being close to the mountains and close to the water, and it's just so beautiful and the pace and the people.

- Bryan Roth

My special guest is Bryan Roth

Bryan Roth Geocaching President and co-founderBryan Roth, an outdoor enthusiast and adventurer, left behind a thriving career as a real estate attorney in Manhattan to embrace a new life in the Pacific Northwest. In search of something fulfilling, Bryan co-founded Geocaching.com with Jeremy Irish and Elias Albord. Through their passion and dedication, they've grown the website into a global phenomenon, connecting treasure hunters all over the world. Today, Bryan serves as the CEO of Geocaching, leading a team of 95 employees who support the global community in their quest to find hidden treasures.

This is Bryan Roth's story:

Bryan Roth's journey into the world of geocaching began when he relocated to Seattle, seeking a fresh start and a life closer to nature. His passion for the unique hobby ignited when his colleagues, Jeremy Irish and Elias Albord, introduced him to the exciting game of geocaching. The global scavenger hunt had just been made possible by the US government's decision to increase GPS accuracy from 300ft to 30ft for recreational users. Inspired by the game's potential and the thrill of being part of a secret club, the trio decided to join forces and launch Geocaching.com. Their collaboration, fueled by dedication and the desire to share the joy of geocaching with the world, transformed a small-scale hobby into a global phenomenon.

Geocaching - The Origin Story

Geocaching, a global treasure-hunting activity, encourages exploration and outdoor recreation for millions of people worldwide. It started in Washington in May of 2000 when Dave Ulmer hid the first geocache, known as the Original Stash. The activity quickly gained popularity, and caches began to appear not only in Washington but also throughout the world. As technology evolved, so too did geocaching, making it more accessible and appealing to outdoor enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels. In the podcast, Bryan Roth shares the fascinating story of geocaching's origin, including the establishment of the Original Stash by Dave Ulmer. Roth discusses the subsequent growth of the geocaching community, with more caches being placed in various locations around the globe. He highlights its popularity and how the simple concept of hiding and finding caches has led to a diverse and creative group of participants.

In this episode, you will be able to:

1. Explore the fascinating evolution and worldwide appeal of Geocaching through technological advancements.

2. Understand the impact of community-building aspects in Geocaching's gameplay experiences.

3. Get introduced to the Adventure Lab app and its potential for creating interactive, location-based multimedia experiences.

4. Uncover the concept of Waymarking and how it helps to discover and share unique global locations. 5. Get a glimpse of Roth's love for independent coffee shops and outdoor activities.


The resources mentioned in this episode are:

Check out Geocaching.com to learn more about the hobby and how to get started.

Purchase a GPS unit or use a smartphone with GPS capabilities to participate in geocaching.

Visit the original stash plaque just outside of Portland, Oregon to see where the geocaching hobby first began.

Explore geocaching communities online to connect with others who share the interest and learn about new caches and events.

Keep safety in mind while geocaching, such as bringing water and being prepared for outdoor recreation.

Consider supporting Geocaching.com as a premium member to access additional features and help sustain the platform.

Share your geocaching adventures with friends and family to introduce them to the hobby and potentially grow your geocaching community.

Timestamped summary of this episode:

00:00:00 - Introduction,  Scott Cowan introduces the guest Brian Roth, co-founder and CEO of Geocaching, and shares his backstory.

00:02:08 - Moving to Seattle,  Brian talks about his decision to move from Manhattan to Seattle for a change of lifestyle and the things he loves about the city.

00:09:58 - Geocaching - The Origin Story,  Brian shares the story of how the game of geocaching was born and how it initially started as a hobby.

00:16:03 - Geocaching - How it Works,  Brian explains the basics of geocaching, how the game is played, and how the GPS technology has enabled the game to evolve.

00:22:43 - Geocaching - Impact and Community,  Brian talks about the impact of geocaching on people's lives, the global community it has created, and the positive environmental impact of the game.

00:15:30 - The Launch of Geocaching.com,  Mike Teague's website went down, and Jeremy Irish launched Geocaching.com 23 years ago on September 2. The website quickly gained attention, and the team started a company to support the hobby. They worked for free and later generated revenue by selling Geocaching T-shirts and launching a membership program.

00:21:09 - Bootstrap Success,  Geocaching.com is a bootstrap company that has never taken outside funding or acquired debt. They measure success through impact and focus on delivering the best experience for their community. With 3.36 million geocaches worldwide, Geocaching.com has impacted millions of people across the globe.

00:24:57 - Geocaching Stats,  As of today, there are 3.362 million geocaches worldwide, with 1.006 million active caches in the United States and 28,183 in Washington State. Geocaching has become a mini-adventure for people, and some players have found over 100,000 caches in their lifetime.

00:28:11 - GPS Technology Improvements,  GPS technology has improved over the years, and Geocaching.com has benefited from enhancements like Wide Area Augmentation System and better GPS antenna reception. However, they don't want too much accuracy as a significant part of the fun is the difficulty in finding the cache location.

00:30:09 - Difficulty and Terrain Ratings,  Every geocache has a difficulty and terrain rating, with terrain ratings ranging from one to five and difficulty ratings capturing how hard it is to find the cache. The ratings provide a challenge for players and make it more fun to explore new locations.

00:31:44 - The Creativity of Geocache Hiders,  Geocache hiders have created incredible geocaching experiences by combining difficulty or terrain. There are puzzle caches where you have to solve a puzzle to get the coordinates, and other caches that require repelling down a cliff. The creativity that the community has brought to this platform is what makes it so special.

00:33:08 - Geocaching for Families and Elderly,  Geocaching is suitable for people of all ages. CNN interviewed a mother with young children who saw geocaching as a way to get her kids away from the television and teach them valuable lessons of sharing and courtesy. Geocaching is also popular among elderly couples who see it as a way to stay active and feel young.

00:37:20 - Super Complicated Geocaches,  While most geocaches are simple, there are about 400,000 super complicated caches, many of which require months of waiting lists to complete. Bryan Roth shares an example of a cache called Operation Crocodile, located in Germany, which is a story-driven adventure that takes almost four and a half hours to complete.

00:43:53 - The Collective Mind of Geocaching,  With a global community of geocachers, people around the world are able to share and experience the benefits of creativity and innovation. The collective minds of millions of geocachers have created fascinating and complex caches, like an ATM that serves as a puzzle cache, and an old orphanage transformed into a story-driven adventure.

00:46:34 - Impact of Geocaching,  Geocaching impacts people in a positive way by encouraging them to spend more time outside, away from their homes, and among nature. With millions of geocachers playing the game around the world, geocaching is having a significant impact on people's lives and their relationship with the environment.

00:48:02 - Building Cross-Border Geocaching Communities,  Geocaching has built cross-border communities, and it's positive to see people sharing their love for the game, doing things in the interest of making others happy. Even if only 1 million people played this game in a month, it's a huge number that left their homes and enjoyed an outdoor activity.

00:49:29 - Using Geocaching for Travel,  A premium feature of Geocaching is favorite points. Users can see the most favorited caches in their area or a new city they are visiting. Each cache has a description and logs of people who have found it. It gives users the opportunity to explore unique locations while traveling.

00:51:18 - Lessons Learned in 23 Years of Geocaching,  Geocaching has had more than a few failures and mistakes while building the platform over 23 years. However, the company has used these mistakes as an opportunity to learn and grow. The team has learned to work together and solve novel problems that have helped them develop into a stronger company.

00:57:03 - Earth Caches,  Earth caches are geology lessons placed in locations of geological significance. Users receive an educational experience by reading a page that tells them about a geological location, and they answer questions to get credit for the cache. Earth caching is a program within the program that appeals to people passionate about geology.

01:00:28 - The Planet of the Apes Geocaching Edition,  In collaboration with 20th Century Fox, Geocaching helped get the word out about the movie using geocaching. Thirteen caches were placed in different locations worldwide, each with props from the movie as the first-to-find prize. Over time, the caches went missing due to theft, removal, or permission issues.

00:01:03 - Ape Caches,  Bryan Roth discusses the history of Ape caches, a set of 12 caches that were hidden to promote the release of the Planet of the Apes movie remake. Only two remain, one in Brazil and one in the Pacific Northwest. These two caches have become famous and attract geocachers from around the world.

01:04:21 - Famous Caches,  The Geocaching headquarters cache in Washington State and the Washington State Park Centennial GeoTour are two other famous geocaching sites. Adventure Lab is a newer platform where users can create and participate in multistage experiences that are centered around a location and require answering questions.

01:06:53 - GeoArt and Power Trails,  People create GeoArt using geocaches to form a picture when viewed on a map. Power trails are series of caches that are placed about a 10th of a mile apart, and geocachers try to find as many as they can in a set amount of time.

01:11:43 - Adventure Lab,  Adventure Lab is a newer platform for creating and participating in multistage experiences that are centered around a location and require answering questions. The platform is free to use and is accessible to everyone, regardless of experience level. There are currently 48,000 Adventure Lab experiences worldwide, with more being added regularly.

01:17:36 - Adventures Around the World,  Adventure Lab experiences are available in almost every major city worldwide, and the options are endless. People have created experiences centered around history, art, and even Civil War battles. Adventure Lab encourages people to explore new places and learn while having fun.

01:19:10 - Geocaching and Signal Awards,  Bryan Roth talks about Signal Awards, a recognition program for employees who go above and beyond at his workplace. He also mentions geocaching, a real-world treasure hunt game that users can participate in through the Geocaching app.

01:20:07 - Coffee,  The conversation shifts to coffee and the hosts and guest discuss their favorite coffee shops and drinks. They also mention Waymarking, a website where users can submit locations for various categories, such as independent coffee shops.

01:23:22 - Waymarking and Baseball,  Bryan Roth talks more about Waymarking and how he is an administrator for the independent coffee shops category. The conversation then turns to baseball and a summer league collegiate player league in the Pacific Northwest.

01:25:33 - Outdoor Activities,  Bryan Roth talks about his love for the outdoors and walking with his dog. He mentions various parks and areas around Seattle that he enjoys visiting with his family.

01:27:05 - Geocaching Resources,  Bryan Roth provides information on how to get started with geocaching and mentions that it is free to use the app. He also encourages listeners to find reasons to get outside and enjoy the world around them.

Each episode we will have a chat with someone who has a great story to share about Washington State. From artists, to business owners.  Musicians to athletes. Exploring Washington State will showcase the beauty and creativity here in Washington State.

You can find all our podcast episodes on our Exploring Washington State Podcast Page.

If you have any suggestions for guests for a future episode, please send us an email.

Want other great ideas of places to visit, or to find out more about people who are making amazing things in Washington State  visit Explore Washington State.

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1 Comment

  1. […] you are only provided with GPS coordinates, never an exact location. In an interview on the Exploring Washington State Podcast with Bryan Roth, Geocaching founder and president, there are approximately 1.6 million caches in […]

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