How do you figure out which Pokémon spawn where? It depends on your location, climate, and more.
Pokémon Go continues its upward climb toward cultural phenomenon: I've run into would-be trainers at the beach, on jogging trails, in malls, and even near the graveyard by my house. At times, it feels like almost everyone is playing Niantic's augmented-reality game.
As we all get comfortable with tracking and catching Pokémon, however, we start to want a little bit more out of the game. That previously full-of-shadows Nearby list? It starts to look a bit, well... pedestrian.
Arguments can certainly be made for catching hundreds of Rattatas, but most Pokémon trainers I've spoken to want to know about the good stuff: Where can they go to catch rare Pokémon? Fairy-type Pokémon? Grass Pokémon? Electric Pokémon?
Because I don't have access to Niantic's internal spawn data, this is in no way a definitive guide. But it's my hope that it will help you figure out where to explore (and what vacations you might have to take this year) in your quest to catch 'em all.
Your location and climate affect the Pokémon you can catch
I've spent weeks traversing New England, Canada, and the west coast with the goal of trying to find as many diverse locales as possible — to truly test Niantic's claim that your locations change what type of Pokémon you see. In addition, I chatted with folks on Twitter, one of whom pointed me to the holy grail of Pokémon Go data: The Silph Road's excellent statistical breakdown of how Pokémon spawn in Pokémon Go.
Between all of these data points, I can say pretty confidently that your location (whether that's at a specific point of interest or a more general location, like "near a pond") and climate dramatically affect what Pokémon you'll see in that area.
As with real-world animals, certain Pokémon, like Zubats and Rattata, are just about everywhere: You're going to see them whether you're living in the desert or walking around Boston. But the frequency of other commonly-spawned Pokémon largely depends on where you are, and the typical climate for that location.
Based on my own data, Twitter contributions, and Silph Road's findings, we've got three basic groupings of common Pokémon:
- Fire and Rock types like Geodude, Sandshrew, Growlithe, and Mankey are far more likely to appear in arid climates like California
- Grass, Bug, and Flying types like Caterpie, Weedle, Oddish, and Spearow will pop up in grassland areas
- Psychic and Water-type Pokémon like Psyduck, Poliwag, Staryu, and Magikarp favor coastal land
Now, this doesn't mean you won't find those types outside their general groupings — I've picked up Ponyta by the beach before — but you'll find those opposing types to be far more rare in your particular climate.
But wait: If you have microclimates — or you have easily-accessible swaths of water or grassland — the game will recognize that and start offering you different types of Pokémon.
This is awesome for folks in places like California, but it does mean finding Fire and Ground-type Pokémon is a bit of a hassle for anyone lacking a local desert-type area. Pokémon Eggs are your friend here, or a well-timed vacation.
I've also seen anecdotal evidence that day vs night affects the type of Pokémon you're likely to see. I've spotted a surprising amount of rare Pokémon in the evening in my area, but that may be due to a number of other factors, too (including that I've done most of my exploring after dark).
Also anecdotal, but I've seen it on multiple occasions: You tend to see more interesting Pokémon on your Nearby map as you gain levels. On a recent walk with a level 10 friend, my (higher-level) nearby map looked significantly altered; it seemed to replace common Pokémon like Rattatas in the nearby list with rarer Pokémon in the form of Drowzee, Clefairy, Taurus, Jynx, and more. My level 10 friend was still able to see the Pokémon when they got closer and catch them, but I seemingly got an earlier heads up about cooler options.
If you want to catch a lot of Pokémon, you want to be in a place with PokéStops (or a parking lot)
In its suggestions on where to hunt Pokémon, Niantic suggests going to parks as a general starting point. The company speaks the truth: Parks — especially parks with PokéStops — are great places to catch creatures, and they tend to spark great real-life conversations between hunters, to boot.
But not all parks are created equal. The original Pokémon games may have encouraged you to explore caves and skip along the beach to pick up Pokémon of different types, but Pokémon Go is a tad bit more realistic. You don't have to go deep into the woods to find grassland Pokémon or out into the middle of the desert to catch a Sandshrew — for one thing, you still need an internet connection.
Instead, you'll want to find a park with PokéStops and Gyms. Multiples of each, preferably. You can get a general idea of what areas have points of interest based off Niantic's Ingress maps; from there, I suggest picking parks that offer strong cellular service and, ideally, a stream, lake, or pond (to capture those elusive water Pokémon).
I visited three parks in my area: One was a nature preserve, one was a seaside beach park, and the last was the park surrounding my local zoo. Of the three, I had most success catching different kinds of new Pokémon at the beachside park (fewer monsters, but the sea climate was different than my local grasslands area), while I caught the most Pokémon near the zoo (including, strangely enough, a bevy of 10 Squirtles).
If you don't have parks nearby, we've also had ridiculous luck with parking lots — mall lots, university campuses, and even gas stations tend to spawn multiple Pokémon at a time. They're not often rare monsters, but hanging out in a lot is a great way to farm XP if you're looking to catch lots of Pokémon in a short period of time.
How to not catch the Pokémon you want
What doesn't affect Pokémon spawns? Weather is a big one — you won't catch an Electric Pokémon during a thunderstorm. (While it would be nifty if Niantic added this in a future update, I foresee idiots getting electrocuted trying to hold their phone out in the rain to catch Magnemite.)
Speaking of idiotic things, you're very unlikely to catch Pokémon while on the highway. In part, this is because your car is likely going too fast for the game's servers to refresh in time — and the new warning Niantic has plastered on the game when you hit a certain speed — but it also appears as though Niantic has deliberately kept Pokémon from crossing or hanging out near major high-speed public roads. Thank goodness: There are enough distractions to deal with in the car already, and Pokémon roadkill sounds very sad.
You also don't need to go traipsing through tall grass or swimming to find the Pokémon you desire — most creatures tend to hang out within feet of paved pathways or local roads, which means you (hopefully) don't have to get bitten by a tick to get that Clefairy.
And while some areas tend to produce a higher likelihood of certain Pokémon spawning, cemeteries are not likely to hold Ghost Pokémon. (Again with the "avoiding traipsing around non-paved areas," but with a dash of personal respect thrown in, too.)
Where can I catch certain types of Pokémon?
This is a partial list, based off my own research and Silph Road's findings, and I expect it to change and evolve (ha ha) as time goes on. If you have any evidence that supports or contradicts this, please let us know in the comments so we can keep it as up to date as possible!
Normal Type Pokémon
You can find normal type Pokémon (including creatures like Meowth) in parking lots, cities, university campuses, and gas stations, and near suburbs, grass, lakes, and parks. From what we can tell, they tend to spawn regularly for all climates.
Bug & Poison Type Pokémon
These two Pokémon types are most often found near grass, lakes, and cities, and usually in "grassland" or "coastal" climates.
Grass Type Pokémon
Grass types like to hang out predominantly (surprise) where there is grass: That means places like golf courses and parks, but also near beaches. They're available in all climates, but most predominant in grassland areas.
Water Type Pokémon
Speaking of beaches, they're where you're most likely to encounter a deluge of Water type Pokémon. If you don't have a coastline nearby, you can also find them near rivers, lakes, ponds, and parks.
Fire & Ground Type Pokémon
These desert-friendly Pokémon are pretty common in arid climates, but you may also find them lurking around the suburbs, in parks — and, strangely, even occasionally at the beach.
Other Pokémon Types
Of the eight other Pokémon types, we've got a variety of locales and climates.
- Fighting: I don't have enough evidence to say definitively, though I've seen them in the suburbs and near parking lots.
- Rock: West-coast areas as well as suburbs and parking lots.
- Fairy: Largely found in the suburbs of grassland communities as well as beach towns. Unconfirmed, but this type seems to spawn more frequently in the evening.
- Electric: If it's a Pikachu you're looking for, you'll want to check out an arid climate; you can also poke around your local college campus or beach.
- Psychic: Psychic type Pokémon love grassland areas, and are some of the first higher-level creatures you can catch in those towns. You can also find higher-level Psychics near the beach.
- Ghost: Another one of those "unconfirmed but I've seen lots of ghosts at night" rumors. They're not in cemeteries, but they do seem to like parking lots and nighttime.
- Dragon & Ice : Both of these Pokémon types are fairly rare, but I've seen at least one of each near river water.
Where to find legendary Pokémon
You can't. (At least, not yet.) But we're guessing Niantic has a few tricks up its sleeve as the game matures.
What else do you want to know about where to find Pokémon? Let us know in the comments.
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