Time Capsule Basics

Steps in the Process

Family Leaves on a Time Capsule Adventure

Here are the basic steps for Rocket Scientists:

1. Select the appropriate time capsule for a remote drop-site as detailed in these pages.

2. Protect your time capsule items.

3. Identify an isolated, secure, hidden, and legal drop-site.

4. Accurately record and document the site with GPS coordinates and photos.

5. Write up the process and save it for another individual to discover.


But wait. Let’s Deal with those pesky questions FIRST.

Primary Time Capsule Questions

Multiple sizes and kinds of the time capsule are shown. Why?

Even if constructed of stainless steel, smaller containers may use some plastic or rubber to seal it. So the smaller capsule is intended for shorter-term adventures. But how long is “shorter-term”? Well, possibly 3-6 years, but it depends upon the capsule’s environment. Most plastic or rubber materials are not good over many years of outdoor exposure and should only be used…depending upon your environment and your placement…for shorter terms. Not decades. The length of the term, determined by you, depends on wide and frequent temperature extremes. We already assume that your time capsule would be shielded from light exposure. But if you want protection over decades, then a fully stainless or polyethylene container should be used. More on this later.

Where can I do this?

Our goal is to encourage the enjoyment of back-woods lands through multiple generations. So this adventure is intended for the wide-open spaces of America (and other nations as well).

Many people in urban areas often have little understanding of how vast and remote our American backcountry is. The numerous photographs that appear throughout these pages reflect this country’s immense open spaces. These are the regions that lend themselves to family time-capsule adventures.

Time Capsules on Public Lands

Placement on Public Lands:

There is no single policy that applies to all public lands in the United States. Your public land options for time capsule placement can be open or closed based on existing regulations, duration, sensitive or prohibited regions, registration requirements, land manager discretion, etc. A good attempt to keep current with state-by-state policies can be found on our References page. Because we have had many international inquiries, we also note the wide variance of policies in other nations regarding the responsible placement of caches in remote areas.

Off Limits:

Note that some federal lands in the United States are considered off-limits: National Wilderness Areas, National Parks, Monuments, National Wildlife Refuges, Natural Areas, Scenic Corridors, Developed Recreation Areas, any place near heritage or archaeological sites, and ecologically sensitive areas. National Forests carry varied restrictions.

Existing precedents for the sport of geocaching come closest to defining the boundaries of time capsule placements for short periods. So you’ll want to be aware of special limitations placed on geocaching before starting on any public lands. Some Land Managers require that you apply for a permit, some have passive permission guidelines, and some have no rules at all but tolerate this activity. You can usually identify limitations by visiting web sites for specific lands.

Managers of different public properties usually have individual discretion for the placement of above-ground items like geocaches. 

BLM Option:

BLM Administered Lands are perfect for the Time Capsule adventure.
BLM Administered Lands

Our 258 million acres of United States BLM lands are generally open to geocaching activities. The Bureau of Land Management policy states that geocaching is an appropriate casual use of public land. Covering one-eighth of the U.S. land area, BLM lands are primarily located in twelve western states. (See other BLM maps here.)

Private Land Options:

Also, often overlooked are private land alternatives. With explicit permission, these properties can serve the unique adventure of time capsule placement. Please see the Time Capsules on Private Lands page for ideas that will help you pursue this option.

How Long is a Time Capsule Adventure?

How long is a string? While some time capsules may define periods of fifty to a hundred or more years, the projections for our adventures are much shorter. Mom and daughter head on time capsule adventure.They could take the form of a weekend scavenger hunt or a long term experience spanning a few decades. There is no single format for charting these occasions. We give you the tools to conduct your own family enterprise.

Because every time capsule experience is unique in terms of intent, duration, placement location, capsule housing, etc., you should weigh alternatives as outlined in these pages when deciding where you can legally and practically deposit your encased time capsule.

Your best options are those with the least environmental…but the most beneficial…family impact. Choose your options wisely. Please see our FAQs page for answers to many other questions.

The Basics

A hollow, above ground, structural-polyurethane simulated rock (or simulated log) is best used to cover sealed containers. Together, the time capsule and its housing are called Geocapsules.

The Time Capsule Basics: A Geocapsule or hollow rock conceals the Time Capsule.


Concealing your time capsule and placing it in isolated and remote areas for future retrieval can be a fun family adventure. It’s like geocaching for one person. But where geocaching has deposited hundreds of thousands of Tupperware containers or even green ammo cans that attract recurrent foot traffic, this adventure is the art of camouflaging a small cache, so nobody but a single intended recipient will ever find it. One time. Once.

“Wilderness regions” is written in these pages only in a generic sense, and not as it applies to National Wilderness areas or National Parks. National Wilderness Areas carry well-intended restrictions within their boundaries. After any time capsule adventure on public or private lands, it remains important that… apart from your camouflaged capsule… you Leave No Visible Trace Behind.

Families hiking on a time capsule adventure.

What This Adventure Is and Isn’t

You could always store a time capsule on a dusty shelf in your cellar. But what fun is that? If you’ve come this far, we know you’re not a dull person. Creating a wilderness adventure for future family members is not like aging wine. It’s doing something your friends and neighbors have never even thought of attempting.

Unlike geocaching, your purpose will be to perfectly camouflage and secure a remote location so that it will be invisible over multiple months or years to anyone but the select few people who know the exact location.

If you were going to take time to prepare a time capsule either for your own family outing this summer or for your kids (or grand-kids!) to retrieve later, why would you risk discovery and loss of your small treasures with poor placement, inadequate security, or incorrect choice of a container? You’ll find great solutions for all these issues in the pages that follow.

If you find the idea of a wilderness time capsule adventure intriguing, let’s continue!

Next Page: Selecting Your Time Capsule
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