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What's She Hiding? Parks and Recreation Employee Makes Residents Hunt for Answers

Posted By Amanda Parsons, Friday, February 15, 2019

By Amanda Parsons


February is decidedly ‘off-season’ in Oregon.  Only the true die-hard, outdoorsy, types make their way through muddy trails in the pouring rain during the few hours of daylight. 

The lack of crowds makes the perfect cover for one Roseburg Parks & Recreation employee.  Velorie Ligon uses this time to hide. 

But she isn’t hibernating.  She is hiding treasures around the city and trails.  Treasures, it turns out, people really want to find.  And she is making them work for it.


(Photo Credit: Visit Roseburg)

Nestled in the Umpqua River Valley in Southern Oregon is the unassuming but charming city of Roseburg.  With a population of fewer than 25,000 residents, Roseburg’s character stems from its sweeping views and proximity to outdoor recreation.  There is no question that an Oregonian looking to explore the outdoors would find inspiring refuge here.

The potential for a good hike isn’t the only reason visitors travel from around the world to see Roseburg.  They are looking for something.   A lot of somethings actually – and Roseburg has hidden them well.

“Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunt using a GPS device or smartphone with an app,” says Velorie Ligon, Recreation Coordinator for Roseburg Parks and Recreation.  “The basic idea is to locate hidden containers called geocaches, located outdoors, and share your experience online.”

Every year Velorie creates caches around the City of Roseburg.  Then, people go looking for them.  This is all part of an effort to get people outside in the off-season – and it is working.

“We usually get between 100 and 125 people at our kick-off event,” says Kris Ammerman, Parks and Recreation Program Manager.  “About 85% of those people are from out of town.”

This year marks the 9th anniversary of an event Roseburg hosts called Discover Roseburg.  Using the parameters of geocaching, Discover Roseburg is an activity that provides players with coordinates to locations around the local area. 

Half of the coordinates are caches, a hidden item and log book to be found using GPS.  The other half are “virtual” and include finding something of value at the location.  Virtual coordinates include historical monuments, local restaurants and shops, and scenic areas.

The first weekend in February, Roseburg Parks and Recreation hosts the “kick-off” event where passports with coordinates are distributed and the search begins. 

The kick-off event also announces the theme for the year.  This year, the theme is Land of Umpqua, honoring the Wild and Scenic River designation of the North Umpqua River. 

“I’ve always wanted to go that direction with geocaches,” said Velorie regarding the theme’s location.  “The North Umpqua trail runs along the river and is a 79 mile trail that is open only for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding.  We are showcasing that as well.”

Besides a beautiful hike in nature, what can participants expect to find?  Geocaching involves hiding an item, typically with a small logbook so hunters can record their find.  But it isn’t easy.

Velorie leans on her creative side when it comes to hiding caches.  “Last year, I passed a gate that had a bunch of locks on it,” she said. “I thought, I’m going to put a fake lock on there!  I approached one of our engineers and told him what I wanted to do and he came up with a lock that is hollowed out inside.”

This challenge may seem almost cruel, but for geocachers, it is exactly the kind of fun they are seeking.

“There is a puzzle element,” said Kris Ammerman, “but it is outside in beautiful or historical areas.”

The virtual caches are a little different.  These caches don’t have a log book.  Instead they direct participants to answer questions about the location.

“One year, we led people to the VA hospital grounds and there is [an MIA war memorial].  I asked a question that prompted people to read the plaques and get a little history,” said Velorie.

Some virtual caches are businesses, such as tourism, or local restaurants.  It encourages people to discover all aspects of Roseburg.

At the end of the day, after a beautiful hike and perhaps a stop in one of downtown Roseburg’s restaurants, participants return to the kick off or City Hall and turn in their passports.

Their reward?  A custom-minted commemorative coin.

“People collect them because they are different every year.  The year we had the shooting [at Umpqua Community College], it was a really sad one, but the coin had the Oregon outline with the heart to represent how the community came together and how much support we had.”

Velorie works with a company every year to create the design of the coins so they appropriately match the year’s theme.

“We order 200 coins and keep giving them out throughout the year as people turn in their passports.” Said Velorie.  As long as they have coins, someone can pick up a passport at city hall.  In fact, many people turn in last year’s passport at the kick-off event.

The kick-off event culminates at the end of the day with a celebration and raffling additional prizes.

Ammerman relays comments from participants, “More than once I’ll hear, ‘I’ve lived here my entire life, yet I never knew… these things were here!’” 

He says residents and non-residents alike enjoy coming to this event and finding something new.  “It is true to its name, Discover Roseburg.”



Velorie shared that the idea for geocaching was not her own, but rather, something she learned about through the City of Lincoln City who also used to have a geocaching event.  This is a perfect example of how we learn from each other.  She is happy to contribute the tradition of sharing information and is available to provide more information about how she plans this event every year.  

You can reach out to Velorie at Roseburg by calling (541.492.6899) or emailing her at

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