February 16, 2008

Geocaching In Google Earth

One of my all-time favorite programs to ever come along is Google Earth. This little gem of an application is essentially a virtual globe with tools allowing you to zoom in/out, pan, and tilt, giving you a virtual 3D rendering of any spot on earth. Oh, and did I mention it's free?! It also provides search capabilities, just like any web-based mapping application like Mapquest or Yahoo Maps.

But it's especially great for (you know where this is going) helping us geocachers scout out the terrain of our next geocaching hunt. You can simply enter the coordinates of your favorite cache in the search box, and it'll zoom right in to the location for you:

Google Earth also includes a vast array of data layers, such as roads, borders, and places of interest, that you can turn on and off to suit your needs. It even allows you to create your own layers, or placemarks, as specially formatted files for Google Earth, called KML files.

If you get tired of entering all of your cache coordinates into the search box, Geocaching.com offers a nifty little Google Earth data layer tool that will automatically display all of the geocaches in any Google Earth window that you have opened or are zoomed in to. The data from Geocaching.com that is displayed in Google Earth includes the type of listing (Traditional, Multi-cache, etc.) and other data to help you browse caches in a dynamic mapping interface.

To use this tool, first you need to download and install Google Earth on your computer. You can get a copy from the Google Earth web site. Then, download the geocaching add-on tool from the "My Account" page in Geocaching.com (you must be a premium member). On the right side of the page you will see a link to "Download Geocache Browser in Google Earth". After you save the GeocachingNetworkKML.kml file to your PC, either double-click it, or open it from within Google Earth. In a few seconds, you should see all the geocaches located within the area framed in your Google Earth window:

Happy Cachin'!


P.J. said...

-Do you know if there's a way to set up Google Earth to do, say an area, of caches and such and then put that file on a PDA? And how to view?

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cosmiccowgirl said...

Thanks so much for this information. I had the program but never knew it could do all this. I am playing with it now to plan my trip to GW6.

GeoJoe said...

Glad you found it helpful! Google Earth is definitely one my favorite geocaching tools.

GeoJoe said...

Good question. I don't believe there is a way to pull geocache location data out of Google Earth, at least not from the GeocachingNetworkKML (other than one at a time). I actually use the Geocaching Swiss Army Knife (http://gsak.net/) program to send my preferred list of caches to both Google Earth and my PDA.

JC said...

Wow... This is brilliant. Thanks!