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A county-wide scavenger hunt

A code plaque from the 2023 scavenger hunt at Highland Heritage Regional Park in Highlands Ranch.

Douglas County Division of Open Space and Natural Resources (Open Space) has a fun program, a scavenger hunt, encouraging residents to get outside and explore.

The game, Decode Douglas County Outdoors, is an activity suitable for all ages using decode booklets provided by the county to track progress. The program begins January 1 and booklets need to be turned in by December 1.

The program is sponsored jointly by Open Space and Douglas Land Conservancy. The first rule printed in the booklet is to “have fun and enjoy your parks, trails and open space.” Participants need only a hardcopy of the booklet and a crayon or pencil to create rubbings into the decode booklet.

Decode booklets can be picked up in the lobby of the Philip S. Miller Building on Third Street in downtown Castle Rock or at the Douglas County Parks and Trails Division (Parks) on Quebec Street in Littleton. A third option is to print the booklet, found on the Open Space page, on the Douglas County website.

Everyone in a household is allowed to fill out and return his or her own booklet. Instructions tell you where to begin for the eight total locations. At the outdoor spaces, the player finds a numbered plaque on a post and then makes a dry rub in the specified booklet page. Look for a number in the center of each plaque – it is an important part of the code that unlocks the treasure chest at the end of the game. Participants also need to write down a letter for the second location, located on a sign below the plaque. Repeat the steps until all of the locations have been visited and all the code numbers are found.

The eight numbers make up the two codes required to open the lock on the treasure chest located outside the Parks building where players return their completed booklets. Booklet submission is done by placing a completed booklet into the treasure box using the codes gathered by players.

Participants who complete the booklet receive a prize, and each entry is entered in the grand prize drawing. Locations and codes are changed each year during December, so participants can play a new round every year.

The first sentence of the decode booklet says it all: “Douglas County Outdoors has a secret…but it’s encrypted, and we need you to crack the code!” Visit to learn more.

A page from the 2023 Decode Douglas County Outdoors booklet with a rubbing from a plaque showing one digit for unlocking the treasure chest.

Article and photos by Celeste McNeil



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