Operation Alaska Benchmark Challenge


Please click HERE to view a list of challenge finishers.


What is the Benchmark Challenge?

The Benchmark Challenge is a hiking challenge that involves locating United States Geological Survey (USGS) Benchmarks. Benchmarks are used by the USGS to mark elevations such as on summits or other points used in land surveying. Through the course of hiking you have likely seen quite a few and there are many thousands of benchmarks located throughout the United States.


USGS Benchmark on the summit of Cascade Mountain in the Adirondacks of New York.

The beauty of the benchmark challenge is that it can be completed by casual explorers, weekend warriors, and hardcore peakbaggers. The challenge has three levels of difficulty so you can pick the one that works for you. You can also choose to make it as hard or as easy as you like based on the benchmarks you try to locate. It is truly a “choose your own adventure” type of experience.


Where can I complete the Benchmark Challenge?

The best thing about the challenge is that it can be completed anywhere you can find a USGS benchmark, and benchmarks are found in all 5o states! There is no requirement on which benchmarks will satisfy the requirements of the challenge. Which means anyone, anywhere in the USA, at any elevation, can complete the challenge.


Ok I’m interested, how does it work?

To complete the challenge all you need to do is locate benchmarks in the wild and document when and where you found them. There are three levels of the challenge you can complete.

Bronze = 25 Benchmarks

Silver = 50 Benchmarks

Gold = 75 Benchmarks

Once you find the appropriate amount of benchmarks all you need to do is record them on THIS form and follow the instructions for becoming a registered finisher of the Benchmark Challenge!

All finishers will receive a corresponding patch which represents the challenge level you completed, a certificate of completion and all the finishers will be assigned numbers and recorded here on the website.


OA Benchmark Challenge Patch


**For the sake of fairness, only benchmarks found after January 1, 2012 can be used to fulfill the requirements of the challenge.**

***Mountain summits or any location with multiple markers within a 1/8 mile radius count as ONE location***

Please click HERE to view a list of challenge finishers.