Natchez Trace Parkway has started off its 75th anniversary year by releasing a geocaching travel bug. Its mission is to go to towns up and down the Old Trace corridor, visiting Natchez, Mississippi, and Nashville, Tennessee, as many times as possible in the year 2013.
The idea is to engage visitors in an interactive activity that represents an original purpose of the “Old Trace.” The park will be releasing one Geocaching Travel Bug each month this year; each bug will have a travel goal and mission that is related to the history of the Natchez Trace Parkway. The February Travel Bug will be released this Friday and will have a theme related to Black History Month.
Travel Bugs are also known as “hitchhikers” because geocachers pick them up from an established cache and then carry the bug to another established cache along the way to help the travel bug accomplish its mission. The Post Rider Travel Bug will need to be cached in towns along the parkway; the only physical cache within the park is located at its travel bug launch site at the Parkway Visitor Center in Tupelo, Mississippi. This cache includes a geocache log book.
In a further attempt to engage a new type of visitor activity that is compatible with NPS policies, the park is encouraging the development of Earthcaches. Earthcaches are educational and require participants to answer questions, but do not require the exchange of tokens. Log books are not part of Earthcaches, but often the cache owner requires a photo taken at the Earthcache site. All logging is done online. Geocaching.com requires the park’s permission prior to their approving Earthcaches, so parks have the option to review all potential Earthcache sites.
Geocaching is free for anyone to register. Travel Bugs are inexpensive and in this case, they were purchased as part of a Connect Trails to Parks grant. There are almost 2 million geocaches and over 5 million geocachers worldwide. Any geocacher can use the Travel Bug’s tracking number to follow its movement. Informational updates are posted for the general public on Natchez Trace Parkway’s Facebook page.