Benchmarking – What is Benchmarking


Beginning with my last post “What is Letterboxing” I want to write about some of the hobbies that are related to or directly associated with Geocaching, yet many of us Geocachers don’t know a whole lot about.

The next one I’ll admit, once again, I knew little about before researching it for this post. What I’m talking about is “Benchmarking.” Benchmarking is a hobby created by Groundspeak/ which consists of users finding survey markers which were placed in random locations throughout the U.S. (not by groundspeak or it’s members, but by federal organizations) Most seem to be small metal discs in the ground like shown in the image to the left there. But from what I understand they can actually be big towers, churches and other large structures, similar to virtual caches.

I was going to read everything I could find about benchmarking, then try to explain it in layman’s terms, but I quickly realized it wouldn’t be doing anyone any service being that you can find everything you ever wanted or needed to know about benchmarking at the official Benchmarking page on the Geocaching website.

I’ve actually come across a few of these benchmarks in the past. I know I saw one the other day within a mile of my home when I


was out running, but when I did a search on the website it didn’t show up… the closest is 2 miles away. I’m assuming that’s because it’s new and the database that Groundspeak uses is from 1999.


Anyway, it actually seems kind of fun to me. I plan on searching for a few in the very near future.

So what about you? Have you found any? Do you enjoy it? I would love to hear your thoughts so leave a comment below.

  1. Craig

    I’ve got 4 or 5 benchmarks credited on my profile. I usually don’t go after them specifically but if I stumble across one I’ll take a photo and document them. Problem I’ve had is that the database on is not particulary user friendly to identitfy benchmarks, and there are a LOT of survey disks out there that look like benchmarks but aren’t. My daughter got baffled by one recently until she showed me a picture and I explained to her that it wasn’t a benchmark she was trying to identify. Still though, it does add something to the sport and is a novel way of verifying your GPSr accuracy.

  2. Sonny

    I’ve done a little benchmarking and try to get the ones close to where I’m caching at when I go.

  3. Sonny

    I do some benchmark hunting but not as much as I should. Well remendy that next year ( new year resoultion)

  4. Handyman:)

    I pick up Benchmarks usually when it is a “twofer” I would actively search them out (because I think they’re neat) but it doesn’t count as a “find”. I’m not a big numbers runner for sure, but, I like “find” credit when I have made the effort. If they included the in my totals I would enjoy a benchmark day once in a while.

  5. Bonsairad

    I have recorded a few of the disk and landmark types.There is also a category of them in Waymarking.I have seen many that are not recognized and that gets to be annoying to the point of not bothering with it.

  6. JimDoss

    I’ve hunted a few benchmarks (on purpose) but usually just log them if I stumble across them now. There are many different agencies that place benchmarks, but only keeps track of the ones in the NGS database. Actually, I thing I’ve found more benchmarks that aren’t listed than ones that are. – w9jim

  7. Webfoot

    I love to find benchmarks when they’re incorporated into a geocaching adventure. I usually don’t actively seek out benchmarks otherwise. I wish, however, geocaching would keep tighter reins on the benchmarking site. I’ve come across many benchmarks, looked them up and realized that the benchmark I’ve found wasn’t in the database, and yet other geocachers blindly log the benchmark as a find, even though they really didn’t find it.

    A simple requirement to take a picture of the benchmark would be nice too. Many people log a find on a benchmark, yet, don’t take the simple picture as a back up. The picture would verify the find. The markings on the benchmark, along with the picture can help others who are trying to find it. Yet, people can’t seem to do this. Very frustrating at times, imo.

  8. Firefighter Skippy
    Firefighter Skippy11-26-2010

    From time to time, I look for them. I have just under 300 finds on BM’s. Lately I’ve been looking for them when away on vacation. I wish that allowed queries to be run and downloaded to smartphones and such.
    Here in the northeast it can be tough to find old marks due to construction and expansion let alone descriptions that are severely outdated.

  9. Wkmccall

    I spent around 10 years surveying, finding and even setting benchmarks, and I can tell you that a lot of them aren’t listed on gc dot com and a lot of benchmarks have been either distroyed or covered up from development and vandalism. Benchmarks are set nearly everyday by surveyors, but for me and my geocaching, it’s not really worth the effort..

  10. David

    I’ve logged a few benchmarks. I been actively seeking one near my house. Just a matter of 300 yards away. But no luck, yet.

  11. rcm999

    I’ll go for benchmarks even though Groundspeak does not score them on the cache finds. What the heck, normally there is a cache or something else really cool nearby. It’s something

  12. rcm999

    I’ll go for benchmarks even though Groundspeak does not score them on the cache finds. What the heck, normally there is a cache or something else really cool nearby. It’s something a few of us have seen and photographed that no one else has. That’s gotta count for something.

  13. Don Kaczmer
    Don Kaczmer11-27-2010

    I have found one that is about 1/4 mile from my house (only looked for one). It is something that would be a good idea to incorporate with geocaching.

  14. Julia in West Des Moines
    Julia in West Des Moines11-27-2010

    they’re very intriguing, but always disappointing when i find them.

  15. HereIsTom

    Not sure if we have them in the Netherlands, but I will find out soon 😉

  16. mo pirate
    mo pirate11-28-2010

    I have done about 10 or 12 benchmarks. I wish they would be in the mix results for a search of geocaches. I remember when I was a kid and worked for a special government job progam on the Corps of Engineers. One of their jobs was to go to the brass plaque benchmarks along the rivers and dig the mud off of the markers which were placed to keep the channel centered where it should be. What a job. I have not seen any of the river benchmarks listed on the site tho.
    I would liked to have placed a geocache in combination with one.

  17. Pigtales

    Benchmarking is pretty cool. Just not counted in Geocaching logs. I’ve found a couple but never really searched hard. Some I’ve found were hard to identify, or don’t show up when researched. I think I may check a few next week.

  18. Norse1965

    I have found several benchmarks. I like the ones that are smoke stacks, water towers, flag poles or on the tops of buildings.. Things that you see everyday but don’t realize exactly what it is that you’re seeing.

  19. stinger503

    Being from Canada my benchmark attempts are limited to whenever I’m in the US. However I notice Canadian markers all the time now.

Leave a Reply