Permit Guidelines for GPS-Based Activities


Permit Guidelines

  1. New River Gorge National River, Gauley River National Recreation Area and Bluestone National Scenic River encourage GPS- based activities that involve virtual caches within the park in accordance with guidelines established by Virtual caches posted on Earth cache will not be subject to the same permitting process required of physical caches as long as the activity occurs in areas where visitors can normally go and does not involve the development of new social trails. Park reserves the right to require a Special Use Permit for GPS- based activities involving virtual caches to avoid undesirable resource and visitor impacts if they become apparent.
  2. GPS- based activities involving placement of physical caches require a Special Use Permit to be applied for and approved prior to placement in the park, and each physical cache will require a separate permit with a maximum of two permits per individual/organization. If approved, the permit will be valid for 12 months, from March 1 through February 28, and may be reauthorized for a second twelve- month term provided all terms of the original permit have been met. After the issuance of a permit for two consecutive twelvemonth periods, there will be a waiting period of twelve months before permittee can reapply for another GPS- based activity permit involving a physical cache.
  3. To obtain a Special Use Permit for GPS- based activities involving a physical cache, requester will complete an Application for Special Use Permit (link to GPS- based activity specific permit application) and provide the park with the following information for the proposed cache location: a 7.5 minute quadrangle map showing the location of the requested cache site; GPS coordinates for the cache site, utilizing base map datum NAO- 27 or WGS- 84); a description of the cache container; educational content of cache; photos of cache location; photo of cache container to be used; and an explanation of why the requested site would benefit from a physical cache. The park has the right to assign general desired locations for physical caches and to review educational content for accuracy.
  4. At this time, no park fees or cost recovery charges associated with obtaining a permit will be imposed as the cache content must meet the parks' criteria for providing an appropriate educational message that complements the park's mission and is relative to the park location of the cache. Permittee will not impose a fee or charge for individuals to participate in the search and visit of caches in the park.
  5. Permittee will be responsible for the content of the cache, quarterly inspections of the cache, soundness of the container and upkeep of web information regarding the cache site. Park reserves right to randomly inspect cache and remove materials that are not in compliance with the permit conditions (repeated violation of cache content will result in revocation of permit and immediate removal of cache).
  6. Permittee will not change location of cache during term of permit without prior written approval from park.
  7. Park has right to revoke any permit if determination is made the cache creates safety concerns, damages or jeopardizes the integrity of park resources, gives rise to user conflict issues or adversely impacts park operations. If park determines authorized cache is creating undesirable resource and visitor impacts and relocation of cache is deemed necessary, park will either remove cache or the existing permit can be amended to reflect new park- approved location.
  8. Failure to comply with park guidelines will result in revocation of issued GPS- based activity permits and could prevent the issuance of any future GPS- based activity permits to the non- compliant group or individual.
  9. If permit for authorized cache is revoked or not reauthorized, cache will be removed from park property within five days and cache publication will be immediately removed from all website(s). Unauthorized GPS- based activity physical caches will be removed and treated as abandoned property, and the responsible person may be cited. Failure to obtain the required permit or permit violations could result in fines up to $5,000.00 and/or six months in jail.
  10. Initially, there will be no more than ten permitted GPS- based activity physical caches within the park at any one time. Dependent upon yearly reviews of cumulative program impacts, the park may determine to permit additional physical caches, reduce the number of permitted physical caches, or maintain the current maximum of ten permitted physical caches.

GPS-based Activity Posting Guidelines

  1. Permittee will include the following statement on all GPS- based activity website(s) where a park cache is listed: 'The fundamental purpose of (he National Park Service (NPS) is to 'conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations. (16 U.S.C. 1)., Placing a cache on NPS lands without a permit is a violation of NPS regulations. These regulations are intended to protect the fragile environment and the natural, cultural and historical resources found in parks. You are ultimately responsible for the cache, so please make sure you know and understand the rules."
  2. Permittee will provide the park with addresses of all websites on which the cache will be posted. Permittee will post the park permit requirements and cache searching guidelines on all website(s) containing online descriptions of authorized cache locations.
  3. Permittee will accurately rate difficulty of finding cache and the inherent dangers of backcountry travel and navigation when caches are located in remote and/or rugged areas of the park. Permittee will communicate any known hazards to searchers and any equipment needed for search.

Cache Content

  1. Content of cache will be of educational or interpretive value and will be related to the location of the cache i.e. a cache located near Thurmond would contain educational material relating to Thurmond.
  2. Contents of each cache will be approved by the park prior to its placement to ensure it complements the park's education mission. Inappropriate or misleading information will be rejected and permit application will be denied.
  3. Prohibibed for placement in cache are: tobacco, ammunition, weapons, drugs (medications), alcohol, food, items with vulgar or pornographic content, personal/hygiene products, chemicals or scented/perfumed items/substances, explosives/fireworks, and advertising materials.
  4. The National Park Service permit sticker (provided by the park) must be adhered to the lid of the cache container in such a manner that it is visible through the lid. The park regulations for searching/visiting caches must be located inside the lid (sticker provided by the park) so that an individual who opens the cache will be able to read the regulations. See attached photos for example.


Cache Placement

  1. Cache locations will be pre- approved by the park.
  2. Cache placement shall involve no digging or disturbing of rocks, soil or vegetation.
  3. Cache placement in areas of high visitor use (Kaymoor, Fern Creek, Nuttalburg, Beauty Mountain, Fayette Station, Cunard, Thurmond, Grandview, Stone Cliff, etc.) is restricted to established trails and other areas designated for public access.
  4. Locations that could lead to the creation of new "social" trails will not be approved. Cache sites in remote areas of the park need to be located in previously disturbed areas that are able to withstand additional use, such as mine benches and logging roads.
  5. Cache sites that require searchers to illegally cross railway lines are prohibited.
  6. Cache sites along the river must be placed above the high water line and outside the floodplain.
  7. Caches shall not be buried or placed in locations that are dangerous or unsafe to access such as on cliffs, in trees, within mine portals, underground, underwater or within park structures.
  8. Cache placement is prohibited in any area that could have an adverse impact upon any endangered, threatened, or species of concern or could have an adverse impact upon any natural, historical or cultural resources.
  9. Park hours and closures will be observed during placement of cache.
  10. Maximum cache container size is 1.5 liters and should not be readily discernable by the general public. Containers must be clear, non- breakable and waterproof with some form of latch or lid that seals to prevent content exposure to moisture. Permit identifier (permit sticker provided by the park) will be attached to the lid and be visible through the container lid and contain park approved guidelines for searching/visiting caches.
  11. Cache shall not be placed in park areas being considered for prescribed burns.
  12. Clues for locating cache must be appropriate and family/kid friendly.

Guidelines for Searching for and Visiting GPS- Based Activity Physical Caches

  1. No digging or disturbing of rocks, soil or vegetation. Prohibited for placement in cache are: tobacco, ammunition, weapons, drugs (medications), alcohol, food, items with vulgar or pornographic content, personal/hygiene products, chemicals or scented/perfumed items/substances, explosives/fireworks, and advertising materials.
  2. Park hours and closures will be observed during cache searches.
  3. Metal detectors may not be utilized in cache searches.
  4. GPS- based activities are subject to all park rules and regulations. It is your responsibility to know the park rules and regulations.


For an application, contactthe Special Use Permnits Specialist at 304-465-6517

Sample Application

Sample GPS Permit page 1
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Last updated: November 7, 2018

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