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The Best Types of Scavenger Hunt Clues

Updated on April 11, 2015

One of the best parts of any scavenger hunt is the moment in which you figure out a particularly difficult clue. By doing so you discover the next step in the hunt, you continue the game, and you move ever closer to victory. But equally satisfying is the moment one sees someone struggling against a clue of their own design. It feels good to know that you have crafted something clever enough to slow a player down and bring them so much joy when they finally discover the answers. Such is the beauty of scavenger hunt clues.

But to say “scavenger hunt clues” is to be broad. There is not one singular type of clue, but rather several key variations that can be used to encrypt a scavenger hunt list. It is important to know and understand each variation when creating a scavenger hunt so that you may choose the correct method of hindrance to use on your players.


Riddles are, perhaps, the most basic of all scavenger hunt clues. They are highly flexible and customizable based on the situation that you find yourself in. They can be adjusted for the audience or the theme of the scavenger hunt.

For instance: older players will need more difficult riddles. Younger players might not be able to handle riddles at all, or they might require much easier riddles. It is good to know who will be dealing with the riddles you devise, or at least their general intelligence level. It is also good to know what they know – be it their knowledge of facts or their knowledge of fiction – so that you know what references they have a chance of grasping.

Riddles can also be matched to themes. They could be pun based or filled with pop cultural references, for example. You could reference the actions of a specific celebrity or fictional character. If you wanted to get even trickier you could reference historical figures and events. The possibilities are endless.

Just try to make every riddle reasonable. You don’t want something that could take a person several hours to solve unless you’re planning some multi-day scavenger hunt of epic proportions. Otherwise, keep things simple enough so that it is possible to finish the hunt in whatever time is allotted.

Photo Clues

Photographic clues are a more modern, interesting twist on the old scavenger hunting formula. These clues are usually created in one of two ways:

  • You take an up close picture of something so that it is hard to tell what the full object is, thus necessitating careful thought to figure it out.

  • You take a picture of part of the area that an object is hidden in so that players have a general location in mind when searching.

These two methods could potentially intertwine if you are doing a scavenger hunt in which the goal is to find a certain location. Though, one might advise against using these on scavenger hunts that are purely locational because they might give away too much to the players.

One of the big drawbacks about photo clues, however, are that they aren’t as flexible as other clue options. You could potentially edit the photos digitally, but that’s about where the customization ends. They’re not something you can tailor as easily to a specific group of people or to a specific theme. They also skewer the difficulty so that the scavenger hunt is much easier for people who know the area better.

Video Clues

In a similar vein to photo clues, you can also use video clues. A video clue generally shows someone using an object or walking through a certain area. Alternatively, the video clue could serve as a sort of tutorial. It allows you to show players what feats they have to emulate in order to cross an item off of their list. This is especially useful in video or photo based scavenger hunts in which completing tasks take the place of collecting physical objects.

If you are using a video clue you are probably going to end up reducing the difficulty dramatically. They give away areas and items much more quickly than a still image or a text clue. But if you are working with a group of children or people who are inexperienced with the activities at hand then they may very well be the best choice.

Another thing to consider when making video clues is how much time you have to devote to making these clues. Can you afford to spend the time to reshoot a bad clue? Do you have the time to edit the videos? Do you have a computer suited to do so and the appropriate software?

You will also need to consider how the clues will be delivered if they are made into videos. Smart phones are quickly becoming a common possession amongst most teens and adults, but if you’re doing this for kids you might not be able to assume that they have a nicer phone. If you’re dealing with adults or teenagers then you might be able to deliver everything via social media networks or through group emails.

But with these delivery methods you run into the problem of whether or not to make every clue available from the start or to try to send them out as they are solved. As you can see, it starts to become more trouble than it might be worth. Of all the different types of scavenger hunt clues, they may be the most difficult to pull off correctly.

Additional Clue Challenges

If you want to ramp up the challenge without making your clues needlessly complex you can add an additional layer to things. This is most easily done by assigning a point system to clues and rewarding people who solve clues first. This makes the situation slightly more stressful and a lot more competitive.

Though, this is something that you should only really do if you already intend the scavenger hunt to be competitive. If the only competitive aspect is the challenge of solving clues more quickly then the entire thing might feel kind of pointless. Do not allow the solving of the clues to supersede the importance of the scavenger hunt as a whole.

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© Copyright 2014. Brett.Tesol - Full terms available on Brett.Tesol's profile page(click the blue link for profile, failure to read the Copyright Contract could be expensive. The act of copying this work means that you accept the full terms of the contract, regardless of whether or not you have read it).


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    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      5 years ago from New York

      I love your scavenger hunt hubs. You fill each hub with so many good ideas!

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Very interesting hub, packed with a wealth of ideas! Thanks for sharing.

    • amiebutchko profile image

      Amie Butchko 

      5 years ago from Warwick, NY

      Great, interesting ideas for fun games. I am harkening back to the riddle in Clash of the Titans that was given to Perseus. Great hub.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 

      5 years ago from Orlando, FL

      I enjoy scavenger hunts. I like your ideas! Very creative. Thanks! :)


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