As if you needed any more incentive to venture out into the incredible outdoors of Southwest Colorado, a local nonprofit is adding one more reason: a hidden treasure hunt.
“If you find it, it’s yours,” is the motto of Bo Griswold, who started hiding cash in popular hiking spots throughout La Plata and Archuleta counties about a month and a half ago.
“It’s just a good way to get families outside,” he said.
Griswold, along with four other friends who participate, wanted to encourage people to enjoy what the outdoors in and around Durango has to offer, and started stashing cash in trees, under stumps and rocks along area trails.
Then, he’d post a picture of the spot on social media and let people have at it.
“It all started out with just a $20 hide, and it gained so much interest,” Griswold said.
Already on Facebook, the page, “Colorado Treasure Hunts,” has nearly 800 likes.
Griswold said Colorado Treasure Hunts is part of a nonprofit he founded four years ago called Colorado Cure, which in turn, is within a bigger movement he calls Colorado Consciousness.
“The whole idea is to bring positive-minded people together to help out the community,” he said. “Our ultimate goal is to provide a transitional community for homeless people. The people who just need a little boost to get back on their feet.”
Griswold, a Bayfield resident, said the treasure hunt is a component of that effort. He and other communities hide anywhere from $5 to $80 two to three times a week, mostly from out of pocket.
And already, the hunts are garnering positive effects.
Rebecca Marchand said since moving to Durango last July, it’s been difficult to find friends and get to know all the community has to offer. She said she wasn’t planning on hiking the day she saw Griswold post a hunt on social media.
“I just recently came out of a bad depression, and I haven’t been going out,” Marchand said. “But when I saw it (the hunt), it really brightened my day. It’s not about the money, but it’s absolutely a reason to get out. And I just love scavenger hunts.”
The search has immensely helped Marchand get acquainted with the area. On one hunt, she mistakenly went to Vallecito Reservoir instead of Lemon Reservoir, where the cash was cached. That didn’t matter much to her, she said.
“I literally explored for three hours by myself,” she said. “I had considered not renewing my lease and moving in July, but I’m learning so much about Durango. It’s (the hunt) made a difference in my life. I think I’ll stay.”
And, as is Griswold’s plan, his treasure hunts have inspired other community members to join in the fun.
Cheryl Herrera, self-admittedly, has a bit of an unfair advantage being a native of the area. Already, she’s found two stashed prizes at Lemon Reservoir and Bayfield Park.
“So, then I took $20 I found and hid it on Animas Mountain,” she said. “Of course, I could use $20, but if I can encourage someone else to get out there, why not? It’s fun to watch people look for something you hid, too.”
She said two girls soon found the hidden treasure.
Griswold said he’d eventually like to see the program go statewide, but for now, he’s content stirring up excitement throughout La Plata and Archuleta counties.
On July 4 weekend, he said organizers are trying to get 500 people to buy $10 scrolls with clues on them, which will lead participants on another treasure hunt. The money earned will go to providing 3-D printers for local schools.
In the meantime, Griswold said there are still several unfound cash stashes out there. One is somewhere near Transfer Park by Lemon Reservoir, and two more are on Smelter Mountain.
“If you find it, it’s yours,” he said.