goonies treasure map
A treasure map from that other great adventure, 'The Goonies'; (photo/Creative Commons)

‘X Marks the Spot’: Forrest Fenn Podcast Launches New Treasure Hunt — With a Twist

This podcast offers a new obsession for thousands of people who spent years captivated with locating Forrest Fenn’s treasure.

Like many buried treasures both real and fictional, the famous trove of gold and jewels Forrest Fenn hid in the Wyoming Rockies caused its share of problems.

Yet there’s no doubt that Fenn’s wacky treasure hunt became an international obsession for thousands of people. Now, a new podcast wants to recreate a little of that magic with an all-new puzzle quest.

In early June, Cavalry Audio released a podcast titled “X Marks the Spot: The Legend of Forrest Fenn.” In nine episodes, the podcast retraces the history and controversy surrounding Fenn’s hidden treasure, supposedly worth $2 million.

But in a bizarre twist, the show contains its own mystery: a new puzzle for finding a treasure worth $50,000. Unlike Fenn’s treasure hunt, which had people trekking — and sometimes dying — in the Rocky Mountains, Cavalry is aiming for something safer.

“Designed so anyone can play along from the comfort of their own home, this new experiential approach challenges listeners to solve a puzzle buried within its nine episodes,” the company said.

Treasure Hunt Meets Brand Opportunity

It’s not entirely clear from Cavalry Audio’s announcement if there’s an actual physical treasure (apart from possibly a paper check). The likelihood of a chest full of gold seems low given that this publicity stunt aims to attract more listeners — not send people into the outdoors.

For example, podcast subscribers will receive new clues and hints for solving the puzzle. The producers also want players to participate via the podcast’s message boards. Cavalry will include even more clues in its social media posts, YouTube videos, and other podcasts.

“We wanted to introduce a new genre to podcasting that offered an experience similar to those who were caught up in the hunt Forrest introduced back in 2010,” said Branden Morgan, the show’s producer and host.

“Since launching the podcast back in June, clues have been hiding in plain sight, and some astute listeners have already noticed something was up.”

The podcast company also said its own employees do not know the treasure hunt solution. Instead, they contracted a third party to create the “elaborate puzzles.”

forrest fenn death
Forrest Fenn died in 2020 at the age of 90; (photo/HBO)

Forrest Fenn’s Complicated Legacy

If nothing else, the treasure hunt may offer a safer diversion than Fenn’s own puzzle.

In his 2010 memoir, the Santa Fe, N.M., art dealer publicly announced that he’d hidden a treasure “in the mountains somewhere north” of the city. Treasure hunters finally unearthed Fenn’s trove in 2020. But the decade-long search resulted in five deaths, multiple crimes in national parks, and widespread claims of fraud.

Even after Fenn’s treasure did finally surface, the discovery spawned at least three lawsuits. Let’s hope the new hunt results in a little less collateral damage.

How the Fenn Treasure Was Found: Author Chronicles Truth Behind Storied Hunt
How the Fenn Treasure Was Found: Author Chronicles Truth Behind Storied Hunt
Journalist and amateur treasure seeker Daniel Barbarisi tells us about the search for Forrest Fenn's treasure and what it was like to hold it in his hands. Read more…

Andrew McLemore
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An award-winning journalist and photographer, Andrew McLemore brings more than 14 years of experience to his position as Associate News Editor for Lola Digital Media. Andrew is a musician, climber and traveler who currently lives in Cuenca, Ecuador, which he uses as a home base for adventures throughout the Americas. When he's not writing, playing gigs or exploring the outdoors, he's hanging out with his dog Campana.