I recently made my 7th visit to the Yuma Mega Event in Yuma Arizona on February 9th 2020 which was number 17th year it has been held.
The Yuma Mega is put on by SWAG (South West Arizona Geocachers) which are a group of Snowbirds from around the US and Canada who winter in the Yuma area with a few locals.
Yuma has hosted likely the longest continuous Event in the same location since Geocaching has started.
What makes it different from some other Events is the schedule of Events and the weather.
Events start on Friday morning with a couple of Events for the day. There is normally a Hike up the Mountain to Gila Petroglyphs where the Event takes place. This is one of the few Events that has Terrain rating higher than 1.5
Then at 5:00 PM there is a Flash Mob every year that has a different theme every year and alternates between Old Town Yuma and The Palms Mall.
This year is was the Red Solo Cup Dance in Old Town.
Prior to the Event most arrive early to see old friends and figure out what is going on for the weekend.
Suggestions are made for things like Dinner after Event. This year we agreed that our group of cachers would eat at the Prison Hill Brewing Company a local Brewery.
Skillet, PhiatSea, W9JIM, sweet-marie, The Fossillady, Tycoon Otto and 2 other cachers I just met.
After a couple of hours here we all headed back to our Hotels/Trailers to prepare for tomorrow.
Saturday brings out the Discovery Series which starts at 8:00 AM.
This year the starting point was the Date Plantation.
The Discovery Series is a series of 22 caches that you do and collect answers to the questions in the Passport. Once you complete the Passport you head back to the start to pick-up you Discovery Coin.
If one knows how to get around Yuma it normally can be completed in under 3.5 hours.
The coordinates are sent out on Friday night to those that registered to attend the event.
Normally our group uses a spare GPS to load these onto and sweet-marie makes a battle plan on how we will proceed on Saturday.
This years group in our vehicle included myself, sweet-marie, kiwicampnut and TycoonOtto.
kiwicampnut is at Yuma this year from New Zealand and sweet-marie met her in Ireland last year.
You arrive at 8:00 AM or earlier as parking can be a problem. You make sure you have a exit lane as it can get dicey getting out. We have to meet for 30 minutes prior to the passports being handed out as per Geocaching Event rules than they are handed out and the fun begins.
Once you leave you visit the Yuma area and can drive upwards of 90 miles depending on the year.
We have learned from years past that it is Rodeo weekend too when the Mega is held. There is the Rodeo Parade that ends in Old Town and you can’t cross it so planning is a good idea.
Once we completed the 22 caches we headed back to the Martha’s Garden Date Plantation to collect our coin.
Once the coin was collected our group headed into the Date Store to get a Date Shake.
It was then outside to enjoy them and wind down before heading out to cache the next 3-4 hours before the evening event.
After the Date Shake we parted ways until tonight’s Event.
Our group of cachers
We decided to go out and finish off a series we started last year called the Sun Caches.
I have to say this was a long tough slog as it was picking season of the lettuce crop. Driving down dirt roads dodging water trucks walking in mud is not our idea of fun.
We couldn’t finish this series fast enough and once we did it was go west young man into California to do ERNAC and What ever is in my Geo Bag caches.
Romain Lettuce as far as you see
Lettuce of left waiting to be picked and plowed field on right.
I have to say we found the What ever is my Geo bag caches fun to do. While several are pill containers more of them were interesting along with a couple of really tough ones.
It was off to the Imperial Sand Dunes then to do the Earthcache there
We headed back to Yuma to our next Event at the Z Fun Factory. It is a Kids play center at this time of year and has water slides for the warmer weather. It is the only place that is big enough to host this type of event.
One has to get there early or it is standing room only.
The Event is from 5:00 PM to 7:30 PM
Canadian cachers around our table. Roughly there are over 225,00 finds sitting at this table in roughly 80 different countries.
LTG47, sole seeker, Tycoon Otto, kootney pirates, sweet-marie and myself.
Once this get together is done then it is dinner on your own. For us it was our yearly visit to In and Out Burger.
We did a few caches around our hotel and called it a night.
The day has arrived and it is The Yuma Mega Event Day.
We always try to arrive about 30 minutes before the Event in order to get parking near the Event site rather than a long way away.
There is the stop by the Trackable Table to drop off travelbugs that we have found or
brought with us. In our case we rescued 2 bugs from a cache that were placed over a year ago in a cache that hasn’t been found since.
It is then over to the Vendor tables to see what is there or new.
Oh then it is time to go sign the Log Book which is a 4×8 foot board.
There were 602 that attended this years Event.
The one new thing at this years Event was Signal the Frog and the Locationless Cache.
You see it is the 20th anniversary year of Geocaching and when Geocaching first started there was a cache type called Locationless.
It has been brought back for this year and it was at this Event.
Then there is the Poker Run and any new caches in the area.
There is things like door prizes and the 50/50 Draw.
Yuma is funded a couple of ways. There is the Event Coin, T-Shirt sales and the 50/50 draw which bring in almost all the money.
The Discovery Series coin is funded out of the sales of the above.
This years Mega Event coin is below: The Theme Caching in the Winter Sunshine
The Souvenir for 2020 was this
The tracking number is on the Edge. This done because owners like to display their coins on different sites etc. and this way it can not be discovered by people looking at photos.
The Event on Sunday ends and many go and cache for a couple of hours and then they gather in groups and head to the area’s different Restaurants for dinner in small groups.
sweet-marie heads this up for our group.
For the last couple of years we have had dinner at Applebee’s as they do a decent job.
As Yuma relies on volunteers it has become increasingly harder to get people to help out.
You see many of the Geocaching Snowbirds that have come to Yuma for 20 years are getting older. The problem is many people don’t see the need to help out until something gets cancelled. This year the Best Cache was cancelled but the screams from those that made caches for this wanted it reinstated. Someone stepped up and judged the event in the 11th hour.
As I have been going to this Event for 7 years I offered 2 years ago to take over the design of the coin as my way to help.
The coin last year was designed by myself and Jangor.
This Year is was myself, Jangor and Moosemob who provided the photo we used on the coin.
Take a look at the Yuma Mega Event page to see the complete list of things to do on the day of the Mega Event and what occurs during the 5 days or so.
The Yuma Mega Event finishes on Monday with 2 Events. One is Come Say Goodbye to the Canadians and the following one is South of the Border in Algodones, Mexico.
The first Event for Monday is hosted by myself and sweet-marie. This was our 6th year in hosting it.
You get the idea of this Mega Event.
I am going to talk about the caching in the area.
Yuma has some of the most unique caches you will ever see.
There is one cache owner you have to lookup and do some of his caches called FATLOLO. I am not sure where he gets his ideas but he has some of the most amazing caches you will ever do.
This one in Old Town Yuma called Yuma Welcomes you to the Great Southwest is a must do if you ever get to Yuma.
Yes this is the Geocache
Then we have one called Little Rocket Man.
This one is a must do in Yuma called FATLOLO’s Green Door. Considering it has over 500 Favorite Points you will see why when you do it.
I am not even going to post a photo of it because the surprise when you arrive would be ruined.
These are a few of his many caches he has placed in Yuma.
Since we drive back to Las Vegas every year to fly home I am going to add one there. Can You Hear me now? is a puzzle cache that is a ton of fun and should be done with kids if you have them.
It has been given a Favorite point 75 % of those that have found it.
In closing one should look at Yuma Mega Event as a great winter break. The weather is great for the week. The different Events are a ton of fun. The SWAG Group are a great bunch of Cachers. You are always made to feel like you belong and ask a question and it will be answered.
If you decide to go send them a message through the Event Page saying you would like to Volunteer for an hour. It could be to help set-up, take down or just helping where needed.
Remember Events like this need your help no matter who/where they are held.
A short note that if you fly into San Diego and rent a car that many of the Car Rental Companies have a restriction of the Car must remain in San Diego county which means they can’t go to Yuma without special permission.
The Last is some of the caches in the Yuma area are on the Barry M. Goldwater Test Range which requires a permit to be on it and a phone call. This is a LIVE Range and that is why you need a permit. While the sector you are entering may not have any war games it still can have low level fighters that scare the crap out of you. The Permit is Free and can be done online now.
The next one is Arizona Trust Land that also requires a permit. This is one that you have to pay for and done online.
In both cases there is a good chance at some point you will be stopped and checked by US Border Patrol. They will ask for your permit and if you don’t have one you will get a ticket.
Consider this Event if you want a sunny break in February
Next years Yuma Mega Event is February 14 2021.