GREAT FAMILY ACTIVITY IN KOOTENAY NATIONAL PARK: GEOCACHING
On our family’s recent summer vacation we had the opportunity to try out our geocaching skills in Kootenay National Park led by a Parks Canada program leader. We had just arrived in Radium Hot Springs, British Columbia and on our first day we went straight to the Visiter Information Building located on the main street of Radium Hot Springs. It was a good thing too, as the geocache was about to start. We had to hurry.
The geocache was going to be in the Redstreak Campground located a quick 2.5 km above the village of Radium Hot springs and the Visitor Centre. If you are planning a trip to Radium make sure to check out the Visitor Centre for all the valuable information needed to know when exploring a new area.
We were a little late but we did make it in time. There were 3 other families taking part in the geocache as well.
First, the Parks Canada program leader explained how to use the GPS unit to each us. Of course the kids picked up on how to use these machines pretty fast. To make sure everyone knew how to work them our first coordinates would take us to the meeting place.
Once at the meeting place, all the family teams received a clip board with clues to solve. At each GPS coordinate we would have to find the box and then read the information and use it to solve the question. At the end we would return to the meeting place each time and the Parks Canada leader would give us our next coordinates. We were a small group on this day so we were able to go searching all on our own. She gave us an easy one to start.
Here is our first box. Kids said it was too easy. The box was hiding under a pile of sticks next to a tree. The others would not be so easy. There were a few that took us a bit to find. We are geocache newbies.
Now we had to read the sheet to discover the answer to the question on our sheet for Cache Box #2.
Here we learned how after a forest fire a tree can continue to grow around a fire scar which is what you see on the tree in picture below. The question we had to answer was: How long ago did a forest fire leave this tree with a fire scar? If you know how to date a tree you would use that same skill to figure the answer out. Options were:
A. 5 years
B. 70 years
C. 1 year
Once you recored your answer it was back to the meeting place to receive our next GPS coordinates. We made sure each kid got a turn to lead with GPS unit.
The whole activity was wonderful as we learned many things about Kootenay National Park including the flora, fauna and animals. It was a great outdoor activity to explore the area and a team/family building activity. Once we finished all 4 other GPS coordinates we headed back to meeting place to find out if our answers were right.
The Parks Canada ranger explained all the answers and even brought out some very cool props! When in Radium Hot Springs Big Horn Sheep are walking around everywhere. Here she is explaining about the horn of the Big Horn sheep. See how the fit over the bone. They are similar to what our nails are made of and they are not used for defence at all. The males use their horns for their famous head banging competitions done in the fall to impress the ladies.
Next she brought out a cougar pelt and skull. My kids, of course, asked her if she had killed the cougar, but she reassured them that the pelts are from animals that unfortunately got hit on the road or died of natural causes that they found in the park. She also told us that there are no geocaches hidden in the National Parks expect for these ones that they organize. It is to keep the people and animals safe. Makes sense!
At the end we were rewarded with our first Geocache coin. A Parks Canada Geocache coin. Very Cool!
A great family activity in Kootenay National Park is the geocache. *Please note that even though you might not be staying in the park you will need a valid Park pass to participate this year 2016.*
Did you know that to celebrate Canada’s 150th Birthday Park Passes will be free in 2017? If you have bought a pass this year 2016 your pass would not expire until 2018, and if you are considering visiting Canada and any of our wonderful, fabulous national parks, historic sites, national marine conservation areas operated by Parks Canada and lockage fees for Parks Canada’s canals and waterways in 2017 it will be free. READ MORE ABOUT WHAT WILL BE FREE AND WHAT WILL NOT IN 2017 TO PLAN YOUR TRIP.
Here is the answer to the tree question earlier — it was 70 years. For the record I got it right and my husband got in wrong.
Have you gone geocaching in a National Park? Does your family geocache? We have just begun our geocaching and hope to discover more.
Cheers and Happy Geocaching,
Educator, Writer, Blogger, Mom
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