Letterboxing

What is Letterboxing?

Letterboxing is an outdoor hobby that combines elements of hiking, treasure hunting and creative expression into an activity that the whole family can enjoy. Letterboxers hide small, weatherproof boxes in publicly-accessible places (like parks) and distribute clues to finding the box on one of several web sites or by word of mouth. Individual letterboxes usually contain a logbook and a rubber stamp which seekers use to record their discovery in their personal journal as well as using their personal stamp to record in the found letterbox logbook. Finding a letterbox, which are hidden in various locations around the world, may require a combination of skills such as mapreading, orienteering, and puzzle-solving. Clues can be easy to difficult.

According to legend, letterboxing began in southwestern England in 1854 when James Perrott hid his calling card in a bottle. Today, the nearby area is the Dartmoor National Park, and there are several thousand letterboxes hidden there! As a result, Dartmoor is akin to the Holy Grail for letterboxers.

Getting Started

Equip yourself: at the minimum, you'll need a journal, a rubber stamp, a stamp pad, and a pen or pencil. Part of the fun of letterboxing is to make your own stamp; it can be easily carved with an eraser and an X-acto knife. If this sounds challenging, you may be surprised at how easy it really is. Lisa made our G-Pod stamp in minutes. If you prefer, you can buy a ready-made stamp at a stationary or crafts store. You'll use your personal journal to record all the letterboxes you've found -- at last count, there were more than 10,000 boxes in the U.S. You may also need a compass for some clues.

Get a clue! You can find the clues for letterboxes in your area on several Letterboxing websites, such as Atlas Quest or Letterboxing North America.

There are twists or variations of Letterboxing that keep it fresh and interesting, such as Hitchhikers, Cuckoo Clues and Mystery Boxes. We really enjoyed finding our first Hitchhiker, which is a letterbox that is placed within a stationary letterbox, and is moved from box to box as it is found.

Create and hide your own letterboxes. Once you've been hooked, you'll start to think of parks near you that would be perfect for a letterbox. Then you can create a stamp and come up with the perfect clues to your letterbox's hiding place. We will be hiding our first letterbox early in 2007.

Rules and Traditions

Letterboxing is intended to be an environmentally friendly activity, with no destruction of nature involved in the hiding or discovery of letterboxes. Boxes are hidden in publicly-accessible areas, yet out of sight of casual visitors. When you find a letterbox, be discreet in opening it so that passers-by can't observe. When you're finished stamping in, make sure to restore the letterbox to its original condition and location.