Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Do You Benchmark?

I thought I'd do a little post about benchmarks, because it's not something I haven't really touched on before. Many Geocachers search for benchmarks while out caching. It is something you don't have to have a GPS, to do - though a GPS does make finding them easier. So if you are interested in Geocaching, but don't have a GPS, maybe try looking for some benchmarks first!

From Geocaching.com:
What is a Benchmark?
A benchmark is a point whose position is known to a high degree of accuracy and is normally marked in some way. The marker is often a metal disk made for this purpose, but it can also be a church spire, a radio tower, a mark chiseled into stone, or a metal rod driven into the ground. Over two centuries or so, many other objects of greater or lesser permanence have been used. Benchmarks can be found at various locations all over the United States. They are used by land surveyors, builders and engineers, map makers, and other professionals who need an accurate answer to the question, "Where?" Many of these markers are part of the geodetic control network (technically known as the National Spatial Reference System, or NSRS) created and maintained by NOAA's National Geodetic Survey (NGS).

Now, I don't go out looking for benchmarks like I go out hunting for caches. However, if the cache description tells me there is a near by benchmark, or I happen to come across one - I will make the find.

Ironically, I have found 4 benchmarks in the last week. All of them happened to be right near caches. It is typical, but not mandatory, for the "finder" to upload a picture of their GPS by the Benchmark. Here is what many of the pictures end up looking like:


Some benchmarks will also have a Witness Post.


Here is one Witness Post that has seen better days.


I've only found 6 bench marks, so I can't give your a very detailed lesson, but I can point you in the right direction. You can learn more about benchmarks and benchmarking here.

If you are not a Geocacher - I hope I've at least introduced you to something new!

If you are a Geocacher I'd like to know... have you gotten a benchmark before? Do you only get them while caching, or do you seek them out even if there is not a cache near by?

What is Geocaching? Answer here.
Profile for ErikaJean


  1. We have found a few benchmarks but it has always been while we were caching. Sometimes we know the benchmark is nearby and sometimes we don't and discover it on accident. We haven't gotten many because we enjoy caching much better. Maybe if we were stuck in a place with very few caches we would do more.

  2. I work for an engineering & surveying firm. I actually know what they are! Thanks for posting! Happy benchmark hunting!

  3. I have 15 benchmark finds. Usually it's because a cache listing mentions them, in which case I'll always make note of it. I've found a couple accidentally (in Canada and then the site shows them in NY... go figure!) and spent a couple days going and finding a few around here. I like them, but it makes it much easier when the cache listing notes there is one near (I note one in one of my caches).

  4. I geocache but I don't benchmark.

  5. Hi Erika!
    This is so cool! I had heard of geocaching somewhere at somepoint but who knows where the info went in my brain but I have read your blog a few times now and am looking into buying a handheld gps! I have a just-turned-9-year-old-yesterday son and I think this would be something fun that we both could do together... and it's outdoors! I think it would be a great diversion from indoor board games, eh?
    I have already looked for local caches online and there are some really close to us!
    I am hoping to get a gps soon... any advice on which ones are better? I was looking at one similiar to the one you have or it may even be that one... do you like it?
    Thanks for blogging!

  6. Long before the GPS was invented, when I was a little kid, I was into topo maps. These maps showed official USGS benchmarks and their associated elevations.

    It was terrific fun riding our bikes to the general area of each one, then finally "discovering" it.

  7. Official benchmark count is 4, but GC.com does not have a complete database of benchmarks, so I've found much, much more. I like finding them.