Bodie ghost town, California

Visiting Bodie California Ghost Town: Everything You Need to Know

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Bodie California Ghost Town is a gold mining Wild West town that is frozen fascinatingly in time.

It is a 45-minute drive from the small town of Lee Vining and northeast of Yosemite National Park.

Bodie was a booming town during the gold rush and, in its heyday from 1877-1881, had a population of nearly 10,000 people.

The town was abandoned when the gold ran out, and in 1962 it became the Bodie State Historic Park. Ever since it has been preserved in a state of “arrested decay”.

It’s now possible to wander the deserted streets, which are much the same as they were over 50 years ago when the last residents left, often leaving their belongings behind.

Walking amongst the rusty iron machinery, past the old faded wooden buildings and peering through the saloon windows makes you feel as you’ve either stepped back in time or wandered onto a Hollywood film set.

Below, you will learn more about this stunning site, Bodie Ghost Town directions, where to stay, entrance fees and hours and some suggestions of things to do in and near Bodie Ghost Town.

At the bottom, you will find a Bodie California Map.

Video of Yosemite Highlights

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Bodie is easy to combine with Yosemite National Park. Check out this video for trip ideas.

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Entrance to Bodie Historic Park costs $8.00 per adult and $5.00 per child (ages 4 to 17). Infants 3 and under go free.

A Self Guided Tour Book is available for $3.00.

Please note that it is credit card only unless there is no one at the entrance kiosk, in which case you pay with cash in the self-pay envelope.

The park is open 9 am-6 pm (May-Oct) during the summer months.

Is Bodie Ghost Town Open in Winter?

Winter hours for Bodie Historic Park are from 9 am-3 pm (Nov-May).

However, even though Bodie is open all year round, I wouldn’t advise going in the winter. The Ghost Town sits on a high elevation (8375 feet), which means that the winter months can be unpredictable with severe weather and potentially treacherous road conditions.

Bodie has no commercial facilities purposefully to protect the ghost town atmosphere. So I recommend you bring your own food and water, especially during the summer.

There is a bookstore where you can book  daily tours and private tours .

Toilets are in the parking lot, and there is a picnic area.

Please note that everything in Bodie is fully protected. It is not permitted   to remove anything from the park. In fact, the Bodie Ghost Town curse is that bad luck will fall to those who take even a rock!

See Bodie State Historic Park for more visitor information.

Road leading to Bodie Ghost Town California

Bodie Ghost Town Directions

To get from Yosemite to Bodie Ghost Town, follow Highway 395 east for 13 miles, then Highway 270 east for 13 miles.

The last three miles of the drive are on a rough, bumpy, gravel track surrounded by bleak mountains, adding to the remote feel of the abandoned gold-mining ghost town.

It’s hard to imagine getting here by horse and buggy as Bodie’s residents once did.

Combined with Mono Lake , I highly recommend adding an extra night to visit the ghost town of Bodie while visiting Yosemite National Park in summer.

Visiting Bodie State Park California Distance/ Times

  • Yosemite Tioga Pass entrance/ exit – Bodie Ghost Town:  44.1 miles (71 km)/ 1 hr
  • Bodie Ghost Town – Mono Basin Scenic Area Visitor Center:  41.6 miles (67 km)/ 1 hr 18 min
  • Bridgeport – Bodie Ghost Town: 46 miles (74 km)/ 2 hr
  • San Francisco – Bodie Ghost Town (via Sacramento):  296 miles (477 km)/ 6 hr 28 min
  • Sacramento – Bodie Ghost Town:  211 miles (340 km)/ 5 hr 11 min

There is a Bodie California map at the bottom of the post to give you an idea of the surrounding area.

Front of the Yosemite Gateway Motel in the centre of Lee Vining

We combined our trip to Bodie with a visit to Mono Lake , so we spent a night in the small town of Lee Vining which was a convenient base for both.

We stayed at  El Mono Motel , with its nicely furnished modern rooms, a small garden, and an onsite coffee shop. Rooms start from $84 per night.

You can also  search for accommodation in Lee Vining here . It makes a great base to explore the neighbouring Mammoth Lakes and the wider Eastern Sierra area.

Another great base would be Bridgeport, a charming town that is the gateway to Lake Tahoe and the surrounding region. Search Booking for accommodation in Bridgeport .

The history of Bodie is a fascinating tale.

During the California gold rush of the late 1800s, Waterman S. Bodey (AKA William Bodey) discovered gold in the nearby area.

The town sprung up not long afterwards and was subsequently named after him. Rumour has it that the misspelling was due to a sign painter.

Miners flocked here to make their fortune settling into the Bodie Hills, and Bodie became an instant boomtown with some massive gold strikes.

Inside the old gold mining mill in the abandoned ghost town of Bodie, California, at Bodie State Historic Park

By 1880 the gold mines had spread, and the town’s population reached 10,000 people. Bodie’s main street reached over a mile in length at its peak.

With its gambling halls and opium dens, the mining town became known as the “most lawless, wildest and toughest mining camp the far west has ever known”.

This website has some great  archive newspaper articles  transporting you back in time through Bodie Ghost Town history.

Why Was Bodie California Abandoned?

The prosperity didn’t last long, and within the early 1880s, people started to leave when the gold ran out.

Further bad luck was visited upon the town by two major fires in 1892 and 1932 when most buildings burnt to the ground.

In the 1950s, the last of Bodie’s residents abandoned the town altogether, some literally leaving all of their belongings behind.

In 1962 Bodie was designated a National Historic Site and became a State Historic Park.

The Bodie Foundation now supports this California State Park with the mission of preserving the remaining buildings in a state of “arrested decay”.

You can learn more about Bodie Ghost Town history here.

Is Bodie California Haunted?

It is easy to see why Bodie feels haunted.

Dinner plates are still set on tables, and clothes are hung on bedroom walls.

Rusty bedframe and mattress inside a home in Bodie Ghost Town in California

There are bottles and glasses left in the saloons and general store and post office shelves stocked with goods.

Shop front in the Ghost Town of Bodie

Peek into the schoolhouse, and you can still see the lesson written out in chalk on the blackboard.

It is all very atmospheric.

Wander further out where cars rot in the meadows and rusting iron machinery is scattered around the town.

It’s like the whole place stands waiting for the residents to return.

No wonder today Bodie is known as one of the best-preserved ghost towns giving you a window into life in the Old West.

  • Drive the scenic route to Bodie
  • Grab a guide from the kiosk and explore the park at your leisure, or join a guided tour
  • Photography – As you can imagine, the ghost town is a dream for any amateur photographer
  • Go on a Ghost Walk
  • See the stunning Tufa Towers at Mono Lake
  • Hike around Mono Lake or to the rim of  Panum Crater
  • Hire kayaks  at Navy Beach, south of Lee Vining
  • Explore the nearby  Mammoth Lakes  and the wider Eastern Sierra region

Yes absolutely! Bodie is a fascinating place that takes you back in time and is well worth adding to your  Yosemite National Park itinerary . It’s one of the best ghost towns in California.

It’s also close to Mono Lake’s stunning tufa towers, another fantastic place to visit.

  • The Best 3 Day Yosemite Itinerary for Summer
  • Mono Lake in California: Visit the Stunning Tufa Towers Near Yosemite
  • 15 Incredible Things to Do in Death Valley National Park – including another fascinating ghost town.
  • 14 Best Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park, California
  • Disneyland & California Adventure in One Day: An Itinerary for Adults
  • Florence Ave Sebastopol: Visiting Unique Junk Art Sculptures

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Here's how to visit Bodie, a ghost town in California | california travel


I’ve been visiting Bodie since 1962. It’s difficult to remember that far back but I believe there were more buildings back then. Bodie is fascinating and worth the trip.

Reply ↓

I loved your article and pictures of Bodie, CA.!! I was there 50 years ago, and really enjoyed the pictures! Of course, it still looks the same, I guess I dont though! :( You must be a photographer because the pictures were really professional looking! Thank you! It really brought back memories!

It must be one of the few places in the world that hasn’t changed in 50 years! I’m glad you enjoyed your trip down memory lane :)

look like a haunted place..:)

What an awesome set of photos. I’ve heard of Bodie before, but actually seeing it in such detail through your pictures was fantastic! Great stuff, Erin.

Great writeup… your post really helped me in finalizing the visit to this ghost town of California… would try my hands & luck to get excellent photos like you. :-)

Excellent Photos, i would rather call it an abandoned Town rather then Ghost. Thanks for sharing!

I definitely agree that it looks like a movie set! Nice photos!

Great photos! I love finding old and odd sights like this!

Thanks for sharing

I visited Bodie recently. It brings rather weird and hard to describe feelings. Best enjoyed in quiet contemplation of course.

Creepy! It looks like a movie set. Weird how they charge you to visit though… does the money actually go towards maintaining it?

Yes it does. It’s a state park and hasn’t been commercialised. I think it’s fair enough as it’s important to protect it.

This place looks like a photographers dream. Were there major restrictions on how close you could get? Was there anyone enforcing them?

There are mostly no restrictions. Some buildings are close but others you are free to walk through. It is wonderful for photographers!

It’s such a strange feeling seeing bits of people’s lives just hanging in time… “Arrested decay” really captures that sensation, as do your gorgeous photos!! It’s impossible not to get sucked in by the atemporality of the place..

Fantastic photos! Bummed out we skipped Bodie when we visited that part of the world last year – the usual too much to see and not enough time… We only heard about it in June Lake, and folks seemed really enthusiastic. Need to go back and check it out :) Good luck!

A good excuse to go back to the area!

I loved Bodie and it definitely felt eerie, especially when looking through the windows. I kept expecting to see a ghost. It is definitely the best ghost town that I have ever been to

It definitely exceeded our expectations, especially for a place I hadn’t heard of previously.

Wow … California seems to have some of America’s best ghost towns … thanks for the tour!

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visiting bodie ghost town

Bodie State Historic Park

Ghost town of the wild west.

Visiting Bodie is the most authentic way to see the real-life setting of the California gold rush. From 1877 to 1882, Bodie was a bustling town with close to 8,000 residents and produced more than $38 million in gold and silver. Today, with the gold mining days of California are a distinct memory, there are almost 200 abandoned wooden buildings in a state of "arrested decay" to photograph and explore. Peek in the windows of the church, schoolhouse, barbershop and saloon, where bottles, desks and other relics remain.

While Bodie is open year-round, the roads to the Park will close with snow. Before visiting, please visit the Bodie State Historic Park's website , check SR 270 conditions on the Caltrans Road Information website or call our office at 800-845-7922.

And, swing by the Bodie Foundation's Bodie Mercantile store in Bridgeport, CA  for Park information, as well as to shop for unique gifts, souvenirs, and more - with proceeds funding stabilization projects in the ghost town!

Bodie Church

Good to Know

Bodie State Historic Park is open 9am-6pm in summer (May 15th - Oct 31st) and 9am-3pm in the winter (Nov 1st - May 14th), and is best explored in warm weather in spring, summer and fall. Peak season is Memorial Day through Labor Day. 

There is a nominal entrance fee  of $8 for adults, $5 for children ages 4 to 17. Three and under are free. Credit card is accepted only at the entrance kiosk, although cash is preferred. If no one is present at the kiosk, please place cash or check in the self pay envelope located in the parking lot. 

Be sure to pack water and light snacks, as there are no services at the Park (restrooms are available). We also recommend bringing sunscreen, hat, and a jacket or layers (even in summer)! Bodie is located at a high elevation - 8,375 feet - and weather can be more extreme. There is also limited cell service.   

For more information, please call  Bodie State Historic Park at (760) 616-5040. 

Bodie Istock Image

How to get to Bodie

Bodie State Historic Park  of California is located in the Eastern Sierra in Mono County, close to Bridgeport, June Lake, Lee Vining, Mono Lake and the east entrance to Yosemite National Park. It is located in a remote area accessed by State Route 270, seven miles south-east of  Bridgeport .

From Hwy. 395 take State Route 270 east for 10 miles to the end of the pavement. Continue three miles on an unsurfaced road. Although these last three miles can at times be rough and reduced speeds are necessary, the road is suitable for most vehicles types.

And while the park is open year-round, SR 270 will close with snow. Please check weather and road conditions prior to visiting, and have plenty of gas. 

Driving precautions: In winter, many four wheel drive vehicles with chains get stuck each year in powdery snow. In spring, mud can be a problem. Local towing services, when available, can be costly. When the park is snowbound in winter (approximately November through May), it is accessible only by snowmobiles, cross country skis, or snowshoes. Sub-zero temperatures, strong winds and white-out conditions are common. Snowmobiles must stay on designated roads in the Bodie Hills.

Bodie with windows

Best Time to Visit Bodie

Bodie is one of the best day trips in Mono County. For visitors staying in  Mammoth Lakes ,  Bridgeport ,  Yosemite ,  June Lake  or  Crowley Lake , Bodie takes about an hour to reach. It’s a fascinating alternative to today’s theme parks and something every one should see with their own eyes! 

Bodie with people

Bodie Foundation Events, Tours, and More

Enhance your visit with a tour - highly recommended!

Friends of Bodie Day  is held annually every August.  

Free History Talks  are offered daily.

Tickets for Stamp Mill tours are available from Memorial Day through Labor Day (no reservations required). Tickets are available at the museum. 

Photography Workshops  are offered throughout the year. 

Private Tours of the Town, Stamp Mill, Cemetery, Twilight Tours, and Mining District  are also available with advance reservations. Please see for more information, and email [email protected] for advance reservations. 

Bodie Ghost Walks are offered three nights each summer - and sell out quickly! The park will be open to the public afterhours until 10pm during each Ghost Walk evening. A presale is offered to Boudie Foundation Members, then open to the general public, typically in March. Keep an eye on the Bodie Foundation website for more information and dates. 

By participating in these tours and Friends of Bodie Day, you’re helping the Bodie Foundation provide a constant stream of funding to keep the buildings in Bodie standing. Ask park staff or visit the website to become a member.

The Bodie Foundation is a 501(c)3  non-profit corporation dedicated to the preservation, interpretation, and public enjoyment of Bodie State Historic Park, Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve, and Grover Hot Springs State Park. 

For more information: 760-932-7574 [email protected]

The Bodie Foundation also operated the Bodie Mercantile store in Bridgeport, CA , offering Park information, as well as to shop for unique gifts, souvenirs, and more with proceeds funding stabilization projects in the ghost town. 

Bodie Hotels 

There are no lodging facilities at Bodie, but there is a variety of motels, cabins, hotels and resorts within 20-30 miles in the towns of Bridgeport and Lee Vining. Search lodging here .

Souvenirs? Only at the Gift Shop.

Bodie visitors will want to leave every nail, rock, and stick exactly as they see it. Everything in Bodie is part of the historic scene and is fully protected.  NOTHING   may be collected or removed from the park . Metal detectors are not allowed.

Bodie info:

(760) 616-5040

Bodie Links:

Bodie Foundation Bodie State Historic Park Bodie Brochure  with history, park information, and town map. 

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visiting bodie ghost town

How to Visit Bodie, California’s Most Authentic Ghost Town

Last Modified: August 23, 2023 //  by  Anda //   30 Comments

Welcome to Bodie, California’s most authentic ghost town! Located in the hills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, not too far from the incredible Mono Lake, Bodie is a beautiful reminder of the Wild West. But what you see today is a mere shadow of what was once a thriving gold-mining town in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, in Mono County.

Table of Contents

A Brief History of Bodie

Bodie – a gold-mining town with a bad reputation, how did bodie become a ghost town, what to expect in bodie ghost town, how to reach bodie ghost town, best time to visit bodie.

In 1861 a mill was established here and the town began to grow. It started with about 20 miners. Due to other strikes in the area Bodie’s development started very slowly, but it eventually boomed. 

the town of Bodie

By 1879 Bodie was a thriving, bustling place, containing some 600 to 800 buildings and a population of about 10,000 people. But with the growth of the population also grew the town’s bad reputation for wickedness and bad men.

Bodie Ghost Town

The town of Bodie was named after Waterman S. Bodey who discovered gold here in 1859. It’s not certain how the spelling of the town’s name came about. Some sources attribute it to an illiterate sign painter. Others claim the spelling was deliberately changed by the citizens to ensure proper pronunciation.

Kitchen in Bodie Ghost Town

Bodie was considered one of the most violent and lawless towns in the Wild West . Killings, staged robberies and street fights occurred almost every day. At some point there were about 65 saloons in town, numerous brothels, gambling halls and opium dens.  

Abandoned houses in Bodie ghost town

The story goes that one little girl, whose family was taking her to the infamous town, wrote in her diary: “Goodbye God, I’m going to Bodie.” The phrase became known throughout the West. Bodie had a bad climate reputation too: melting hot summers and savage winters, with winds that can sweep across the valley at close to 100 miles per hour.

Abandoned church in Bodie Ghost town

Bodie’s downfall was caused by a series of unfortunate events. The first one was a big earthquake that struck, causing severe damages to the main vein of the mine. The investors decided it would be too much trouble and cost to relocate it. Then, in 1892 a disastrous fire destroyed much of the town, followed by another devastating one several years later.

abandoned store in Brodie

Although some mining continued, Bodie was already dying. Its citizens were leaving. The town’s decline was also accelerated by the Prohibition and the Depression. By the 1950s all the mining ceased and Bodie became a ghost town. In 1962, after years of neglect, the Ghost Town of Bodie became a California Historic Site.


They say that although over $75million in gold was taken from Bodie Butte, there is still as much gold left in the ground as it was taken out. However, water invaded the tunnels and shafts and the cost of mining would exceed the gold’s present day value. So for now, the gold will probably stay where it is.


Today there are only 168 remaining structures in Bodie. Nonetheless, the town is one of the most authentic gold-mining towns of the Old West. In contrast with other ghost towns like Calico , or Jerome , which are more commercialized, Bodie looks really abandoned and isolated. It’s like an open-air museum where you see authentic structures from 160 years ago.

Bodie Ghost Town

Strolling through the quiet, dusty streets gives you a peek into the heart and soul of this town that was once bustling with life. The abandoned buildings and old furnishings stirred your imagination. You can almost envision those whose lives played out here over a century ago.

There are no commercial facilities at Bodie, or within 14 miles of the Historic Park. So if you are planning a visit you should bring your own food and water.

visiting bodie ghost town

Restrooms are located in the parking lot and the picnic area. There is no smoking allowed in the park, except in the parking lot. Certain areas in the park are uncertain and thus closed to the public.

Bodie State Park sits on the California/Nevada border of U.S. Highway 395, about 135 miles south of Reno. South Lake Tahoe is only about an hour away.

Reaching Bodie from the Highway 395 is quite difficult. The 270 Road leading to town is actually a dusty and bumpy dirt road. With so difficult access, it’s surprising that over 200,000 people come to visit Bodie every year.

Bodie ghost town make a great California getaway

The ghost town of Bodie is technically open year round. The hours of operation are: 9:00am to 4:00pm from November 1 to May 14, and 9:00am to 6:00pm from May 15 to October 31.

Bodie sits on a high altitude plateau, so weather-wise you can count on dry, hot summers and long, cold winters, filled with snow. In fact, Bodie is one of the coldest spots in the country.

visiting Bodie ghost town in winter

If you plan to visit Bodie in winter, you have to be aware that the road that takes you to town is not plowed. Even if you drive a 4-wheel car, I recommend you check the road conditions before making the trip. The best time to visit is from from spring to fall.

We visited the town in mid winter, when very few visitors were around. However, the place is quite vast so I can’t imagine it’s ever too crowded.

Costs are : $8 per adult, $5 children for 4 – 17; children 3 and under are free. Only cash or checks are accepted at the park entrance station.

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visiting bodie ghost town

Anda is an award winning travel writer, avid globetrotter and passionate photographer. She is the voice behind "Travel Notes & Beyond," a collection of stories and travel impressions from her wanderings around the world. When she is not busy writing, traveling, or editing photographs, you can find her hiking in the foothills behind her house together with her husband and their dog.

visiting bodie ghost town

Reader Interactions

November 16, 2021 at 7:01 pm

My ex’s great great great uncle was a sheriff at Bodie and i know the history about what happen to the people there

November 17, 2021 at 4:53 pm

It must be very interesting to people who eye-witnessed of what happened in Bodie.

Lyn aka The Travelling Lindfields

August 23, 2017 at 3:53 am

I have to laugh at your description of the ‘dusty’ road in to Bodie. It wasn’t dusty when we visited. It snowed the night before and we only just got through. I remember David talking on the phone to my brother (in Australia) asking, in jest, where all the heat and tumbleweeds that he had described to us were. He visited Bodie in the heat of summer and we were there in autumn. The several feet of snow on the ground was such a contrast to his hot and dusty experience .

Anda Galffy

August 23, 2017 at 10:54 am

I can imagine how difficult the road to Bodie must have been in a few feet of snow. I think it was very brave of you to attempt it in winter. That road is not serviced and if you get stuck there you may not even have phone reception to call for help.

Jim ~ ReflectionsEnroute

August 20, 2017 at 10:09 am

I’m surprised, and happy, that this hasn’t been commercialized. When I hear of ghost towns in California, I always think of Columbia which was an old ghost town that has been over-commercialized. I will certainly make my way to Bodie at some point in time. Thanks for linking in to

August 20, 2017 at 7:51 pm

I’ve never heard of a ghost town named “Columbia” in California, Jim. You made me really curious. I believe the one you are referring to is Calico. That one has really been commercialized.

August 19, 2017 at 11:34 am

This is a true ghost town. amazing to think this could exist today, Nice find!

Rhonda Albom

August 19, 2017 at 4:25 am

I like the sepia tone photos of Bodie. Thanks for the interesting history on this mining town. I’ve visited ghost towns but not this one.

Connie Reed

April 6, 2015 at 6:38 am

Bodie is on my itinerary for a trip I’m taking next month. Thanks for the preview of what I’ll see. I’m looking forward to it.

Sarah Ebner

February 19, 2015 at 4:55 am

Incredible story. We went to gold rush country some years ago and I found it absolutely fascinating – all these ghost towns had such a palpable sense of history about them.

Elaine J. Masters

February 16, 2015 at 3:05 pm

So evocative and what exquisite pictures. There’s nothing like visiting a ghost town and you found a real gem.

Packing my Suitcase

February 16, 2015 at 2:54 am

Wow Anda, your photos are stunning! Happy to have found your blog! Happy travels and have a great week. Allane

Mary {The World Is A Book}

February 15, 2015 at 9:44 pm

I have wanted to go to Bodie for a long time. It looks so interesting and all this history and information you provided is great. What a neat little town to visit.

February 15, 2015 at 7:01 pm

What a coincidence; my father-in-law was just talking about Bodie a few days ago. He has been there twice. As a long-time California resident he has seen his share of ghost towns and said this is the most authentic of all. Apparently the historical society has established a policy to keep Bodie exactly the way it was found and not do any restoration.

February 16, 2015 at 12:54 am

You are right, Linda. Bodie is being kept in a “state of arrested decay”

bettyl - NZ

February 15, 2015 at 2:49 pm

I love places like this. Your sepia editing makes it so much more realistic. I just found you and will be linking up sometimes soon 🙂

February 15, 2015 at 6:23 pm

Hope to see you here every week-end, Betty.

Suze the Luxury Columnist

February 15, 2015 at 5:12 am

I find these ghost towns like Bodie fascinating, we don’t have anything similar in the UK

February 15, 2015 at 6:18 pm

The reason the Wild West Ghost Towns are so fascinating is exactly because you can’t find them anywhere else, Suze. But don’t worry, you have other fascinating things in the UK that we don’t have here.

February 15, 2015 at 12:17 am

So interesting!! Ghost towns always strike me as ‘something typical for the US’ as it makes me think of westerns 😉 Ha,how about that stereotype! I have seem some ghost towns when I was in Nevada, impressive! Thanx for the link party!!

February 15, 2015 at 6:21 pm

You are welcome, Esther. Thanks for linking up.

February 14, 2015 at 1:29 pm

After winding up my road trip around the ghost towns of the Mojave I began reading a lot about Bodie. What an incredible piece of wild west history.

February 14, 2015 at 12:10 pm

Fascinating story, thank you for sharing! Was it eerie visiting it, to see an entire town with no one around?

February 14, 2015 at 10:56 am

I visited Bodie the second time after 2o years, and found it unchanged, except the presence of security vehicles and people. I think there still is gold there, and that is what they are there for, not the visitor’s safety! The views of the Sierras on the drive back to the highway are magnificent, and the place is a gold mine if just for the amount of stuff left over, witness of human struggle 150 years ago! Much has changed for the better!

February 14, 2015 at 6:27 am

I love old ghost towns! You’ve captured Bodie perfectly in your article and black & white pictures.


February 14, 2015 at 4:35 am

Hi Anda, very very interesting post. I heard about Bodie but didn’t learn about it in so much details until now. It sounds like a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah. It’s a true Ghost town indeed. It’s amazing to see the state they were left at and that they’re still intact. If I didn’t read your narratives, I would think this is a movie set. Your photos are beautiful – they capture the loneliness and the ghostly atmosphere of Bodie.

Steve Oliver

February 14, 2015 at 3:34 am

hi Anda, these are such great pictures! And a very interesting story.

How long is the dirt road into Bodie? Do you need a truck to drive it?

Thank you for hosting #TheWeeklyPostcard.

February 14, 2015 at 11:23 pm

The dirt road is about 13 miles. We had a 4-wheel drive truck, but if there is no snow you can manage with any car.

Lyn @thetravellinglindfields

February 13, 2015 at 9:37 pm

We visited Bodie years ago with our two boys. My brother had been there previously and told us we just had to go to see and feel the heat and desolation. He described tumbleweeds blowing along the street pushed along by hot gusty winds. When we arrived there was about three feet of snow covering everything. The road in was only just passable. We loved it – it felt so much like the ‘wild west’ but the contrast with my brother’s description of heat and drought couldn’t have been stronger.

February 13, 2015 at 10:52 pm

Indeed, Lyn, the climate is very extreme: torrid summers in contrast with very harsh winters. We were lucky to get a very mild weather when we visited (although it was February). Those poor people living in Bodie … can you imagine?

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Bodie, California

Bodie, California

Bodie State Historic Park – Bodie, California

In 1859 William (a.k.a. Waterman) S. Bodey discovered gold near what is now called Bodie Bluff. A mill was established in 1861 and the town began to grow. It started with about 20 miners and grew to an estimated 10,000 people by 1880! By then, the town of Bodie bustled with families, robbers, miners, store owners, gunfighters, prostitutes, and people from every country in the world. At one time there was reported to be 65 saloons in town. Among the saloons were numerous brothels and ‘houses of ill repute’, gambling halls and opium dens – an entertainment outlet for everyone.

On a daily basis miners would emerge from the mills and head for the bars and the red light district to spend their earnings. The mixture of money, gold and alcohol would sometimes prove fatal. Newspapers reported that townspeople would ask in the mornings “Have we a man for breakfast?” Meaning ‘Did anyone get killed last night?’

Some records show that a “Wm. Body” took a ship from New York, around the horn, to end up in San Francisco. It isn’t clear if that’s the same man who was prospecting near present day Bodie. In any case, the spelling of the name was changed at some point before the majority of the people made their way to Bodie, and it stuck.

Today, even though Bodie is down a dusty, bumpy, slow, 13 mile long road off State Highway 395, it’s amazing how many people are aware of this once glorious town.

There’s a story about a little girl whose family was moving from San Francisco to Bodie who, depending on who tells it, wrote in her diary either: “Good, by God, I’m going to Bodie” -or- “Goodbye God, I’m going to Bodie.”

Learn more about Bodie and decide for yourself…

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Bodie Ghost Town

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visiting bodie ghost town

Bodie Ghost Town - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos)

California’s Bodie Ghost Town: A Guide to the Relics and Wreckage

The Bodie ghost town is a remarkable open air museum and a perfect representation of California’s boom and bust gold rush. This guide to Bodie State Park will give you some history on the town (and its unsavory reputation), answer your questions about how to visit, and give you plenty of eye candy that will make you want to go now.

Bodie State Park schoolhouse

The History of Bodie Ghost Town

The town of Bodie was named after Waterman S. Body who in 1859, discovered small amounts of gold in the hills north of California’s Mono Lake. Body himself perished when he attempted to return to the area. However, the gold was indeed there and in the 1870’s, the Bunker Hill Mine hit a big strike of gold and silver ore. Over the next 25 years, nearly 10,000 pounds of ore were extracted from the area.

Hopeful folks flocked to Bodie and by 1879, the town’s population had swelled to ~9,000 people. Along with the 30 gold mines dotted along the hillside were also businesses designed to help the gold miners part with their hard earned cash. 60 saloons, dance halls, gambling halls and opium dens along with three breweries opened to provide essential services for the miners.

Given that sort of business profile, it’s no wonder that Bodie developed a reputation for lawlessness. The litany of Bodie’s shenanigans reads like a screen play for a spaghetti western with the gunfights, stage coach hold-ups and street fights. That said, the town also had several churches, a school and a newspaper.

By 1882, the boom was flickering out and the town’s population began to decline. By 1886 the town was down to 1,500 people. A disastrous fire in 1892 did some serious damage and another in 1932 put a stake in it.

By 1962, the ghost town of Bodie was designated both a State Historic Park and also a National Historic Landmark. The decision was made to “preserve” Bodie, but not to “restore” it. This means that the buildings and their contents have been left in situ, and nature is taking its course. And this is what makes the area so worth visiting. Bodie’s ghost town isn’t some sort of cute attraction where you can pretend that you are a gold miner. It’s a dusty, decrepit look at the ghosts who still inhabit the town.

California State Park list Bodie State Park

Bodie Ghost Town FAQ

Is bodie open to the public.

Yes. Bodie ghost town part of the California State Parks system and is open to the public. The park is open most days. Winter hours are 9am-4pm and summer hours are 9am-6pm. During the winter, if the road into the park is snowy, the park (and the road) will be closed.

How Much Does it Cost to Visit Bodie State Park?

Bodie State Historic park charges by the person to visit. It costs $8 per adult and $5 per child. Children under 3 are free. This is one of the few state parks that doesn’t accept the annual California Explorer hang tag pass, but it does take the Historian Pass. Use our guide to figure out which annual state park pass is right for you.

Is Bodie Worth Visiting?

Absolutely. Even though Bodie was abandoned, doesn’t mean that it’s not interesting. California’s riches were built upon mining and the town was part of that boom. It’s one the most well preserved ghost towns in California. Poking around the site is fun and peeking into the windows of the buildings will give you an evocative sense of what like was like during the gold rush.

Is the Road to Bodie Paved?

All but the last three miles is paved. The remaining dirt road is reasonably well-graded and even a low slung car or RV can do it, if taken slow.

How Do You Get to Bodie?

The main road into Bodie is located off of Highway 395 in the Eastern Sierras. The turn off is between Bridgeport and Lee Vining. The road into the park is 13 miles long and as mentioned above, the last 3 miles are on dirt road.

If you have a higher clearance vehicle and have some experience with off-roading, you can also take a slower dirt backroad into the park which cuts through the lovely desert landscape. From Lee Vining, you can take Highway 167 (Pole Line Road) to Goat Ranch Cutoff and then Cottonwood Canyon Road. From Bridgeport you take Aurora Canyon Road to Bodie Masonic Road. Be aware that the Masonic road is particularly temperamental after storms. Even the gentler Cottonwood Canyon road can sometimes be done in a normal car and other times requires higher clearance.

You should call ahead to the state park to ask about road conditions before setting out because weather can have a dramatic effect on the drivability of these roads. Their phone is (760) 616-5040. Exercise wise judgment and don’t drive the backroads you aren’t familiar with driving on rough roads. Bring a GPS app like Gaia.

How Far is Bodie from Mammoth Lakes, Bridgeport and Lee Vining?

– Mammoth Lakes is 68 miles and takes 1.5 hours. – Bridgeport is 24 miles and takes 55 minutes. – Lee Vining is 36 miles and takes 1 hr 5 minutes.

When is the Best Time to Visit Bodie?

The most temperate time to visit Bodie is April-October. Spring and fall temperature highs are usually 50-60′ and summer highs hit 77′. The park sits at 8.,379′, so it will always be much cooler than the valley floor of the 395 corridor. The park does get snow, making the road unpassable at times during the winter.

What Else is There to Do Near Bodie?

The entire Highway 395 corridor is chock a block with historic sites, lovely alpine lakes, hiking and funky geology. Plan your entire trip using our insanely thorough road trip itinerary for 395 .You can also check out our guide for Convict Lake , which is located just south of June Lake. We also have a list of 16 cool things to do near Bishop , which includes some interesting cultural and historic sites (plus hikes!).

Read More : Get the full downlow on all CA parks with our complete California State Parks list (with map).

Bodie California Ghost Town- mining residence

What to see in Bodie State Historic Park

Bodie ghost town is roughly twelve square blocks of buildings in various states of decay. The adjacent mining operation can be viewed from behind fencing, but it’s not safe to walk around in that area. Be sure to also check out the cemetery, which is just southeast of the main site.

If you want a lot of specific detail about the buildings, buy the walking tour brochure from the state parks kiosk.

Ghost town of Bodie: Swazey Hotel building ruin

There are a series of structures in the main downtown drag. The image above is of the Swazey hotel (which probably doubled as a brothel).

Bodie state park saloon and post office with foreground wagon

The pink brick building is the post office and the wooden structure beside it is the old Saloon.

Bodie state historic park firehouse

This is the interior of the old firehouse, which unfortunately didn’t quite get the job done when fire came through in 1892.

Carriage barn at Bodie state park

Here’s the old carriage barn on the downtown drag.

Bodie state park wagon building and shed

Wagon building and shed on the northern edge of town near the mine.

Bodie state historic park Dolan house ruin

Be sure to get off the main drag and spend some time in the southern and eastern reaches of the park. For instance, the pic above is from the Dolan house. It sits on a bit of a rise, which will give you a wide-angle view of the whole town.

Moyle house at Bodie state park

This is the Moyle house on the southern edge of town.

Bodie state park morgue building interior

If you think the crooked, decrepit building exteriors are pretty ghostly, wait until you peek in the windows. Bodie was a pretty rough and ready town and the morgue (pictured above), was kept pretty busy.

Bodie ghost town rooming house

Here’s the rooming house. Not quite five star, but also not too different from a mouse-infested RV that I once Airbnbed in Slab City .

Bodie state park general store

Here is the general store– it’s in somewhat better condition than the morgue or the rooming house.

Bodie ghost town house interior

This shot epitomizes the loneliness of ghost towns, but also their endurance. This one remaining piece of intact furniture stands stalwart against the ravages of rot and rodents.

(This article contains affiliate links. This means that if you choose to purchase, I’ll make a small commission.)

Where to Stay When Visiting Bodie

Camping near bodie.

There is no camping on site at Bodie State Park. However, most the land surrounding Bodie ghost town is BLM land. You are allowed to do disbursed camping on BLM land as long as you are self sufficient and you are off the main road. There are several large pull-outs off the main road which would be suitable for RV boondocking. There are private RV campgrounds in and around both Lee Vining and Bridgeport. There are also many US Forest Campgrounds dotted along the western side of 395, such as Lundy Canyon, Virginia Creek and Lower Twin Lakes.

Hotels, Motels and AirBnbs Near Bodie

There is a small amount of Airbnb inventory in the area, but if you are just passing through, a hotel/motel would probably be easier and cheaper.

For hotels and motels, check this listing on or look at reviews on Trip Advisor . If you want something a bit funky, you can rent a night in a covered wagon at the Virginia Creek Settlement motel .

Read More : Be sure to check out this guide for the ten best ghost towns in California . It includes some cool suggestions for Northern California, the 395 corridor, Barstow and Death Valley. You may also want to visit Malakoff Diggins State Historic park , which preserves gold rush history near Nevada City.

The grounds of Bodie ghost town state park

What to Bring on your Bodie State Park Visit

Bodie is a ghost town, which means that the only businesses in town are boarded up and full of dust. You’ll need to bring everything that you’ll need for the day. So, pack a lunch, some water and snacks. You should also make sure that you aren’t low on gas. The mobile signals are also pretty sketchy out there, so you may want to cache any maps in advance.

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8 thoughts on “California’s Bodie Ghost Town: A Guide to the Relics and Wreckage”

Went to Bodie few years back, we spent hours there,great articles, really liked part on getting there on the back roads. and the off road camping ,Saw those roads when we where there, but was uncertain if we could drive them.

we visited Bodie in 1962 with our 6 month old son…..No one was there it was wide open..the roads were unpaved, rocks ,dirt….we put him in the stroller and walked around…we had the whole town to ourselves……Really great to see the old wild west….With no upkeep Bodie will wither away in the elements….SO SAD NOT TO HELP PRESERVE IT…..WE LIVE IN THE FRESNO AREA….

Bodie ghost town is in same condition as it was in 1962. Dry conditions preserve the bldgs

Bodie is maintained in a state of arrested decay. That means that things are repaired as needed. New roofs appear from time to time, for instance. Rangers live there all year around. The Cain house is one that is occupied, there are others as well. You can follow the efforts to maintain Bodie here –

Thanks for sharing the resource.

Yup….took a visit there about 10years ago…..being from England, was a fascinating visit as to how life was like in the “Wild West” …..stayed at Lee Vining…then on through Death Valley…then on to Vegas.

My great grandparents lived in Bodie…I just read a letter he wrote her stamped Bodie 1937. William Hyland I’ve often wondered if Lil Bill was related. Thank you for a GREAT article. My Grandmother was raised there and we visited often.

Have been a volunteer docent there, having just completed my 27th year. A couple of things to consider doing are: (1) take the mill tour (sign up in the museum – extra charge) and learn how the gold and silver were extracted from the ore they were imbedded in and (2) buy a cemetery brochure (in the museum) and visit some of the folks interred in one of 3 cemeteries. Visit the “Little Angel of Bodie” – Evelyn Meyers. Her tragic story is in the museum on a small plaque just inside the door. Her tombstone is white marble with an angel on top of it.

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All-American Atlas

Bodie, California: Must-Read Tips for Visiting the Ghost Town

Bodie, California: today, one of the most famous ghost towns in the US, but back in the day, one of the most active boomtowns in the American West.

It’s a town frozen in time, now known as Bodie State Park after being bought by the state of California, and visitors to this unique place will discover the secrets and strife of the people who lived here during the California Gold Rush.

Wander through Bonanza Street to find dilapidated buildings with a ton of stories to tell, or peer into the Bodie jail and imagine the criminals who must have been housed here in the wild days of the California mines.

Bodie california

Bodie the ghost town is a far cry from what it was when it reached its highest population of around 8,000 (now it’s just home to a couple of park rangers who look after it), but it’s one of the most unique things to do in California and truly a memorable day trip from nearby Yosemite .

And the photos you can get will really put your California Instagram captions to work!

Where is Bodie, California?

Bodie is on the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountains (ie, in the middle of nowhere), 7 miles south of Bridgeport.

Address: Highway 270, Bridgeport CA 93517

Bodie california

The Boom Town History of Bodie, California

Bodie, California was once an incredibly active mining town on the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada.

In 1859, a man named W.S Bodey from New York (remember: back in the Gold rush days, people would come from far and wide!) discovered gold in the area.

Bodie california

This set off a flurry of activity and newcomers to the area, and while he didn’t live to see the town being built, it was named “Bodie” after him.

For decades, mining in the area grew, but it wasn’t quite the boom that would happen in 1875 when a body of gold ore was discovered in Bodie.

Bodie california

And what happens when you say “there’s gold here!”?

Well, everyone comes running!

Bodie’s boomtown days began in 1875 and continued until the late 1800s.

The population likely reached around 8,000 people, most of them miners and merchants.

Bodie california

In addition, some men brought their families and women and children made up an important part of Bodie (you can see the old schoolhouse today).

Bodie california

The reputation of the area wasn’t something to be proud of, as it got a name for attracting rougher crowds and men with few morals.

Saloons with drinks a plenty and opium dens thrived, and while some found gold and other precious minerals, others were lost to shootouts, violence, and the incredibly difficult weather conditions.

Bodie california

So basically, it was like one long party with a lot of really rich and really poor people living together in the mountains.

Surprised it didn’t last!

Bodie california

Why is Bodie California Abandoned?

The answer is simple.

As fast as it boomed, the town’s population began to decline once the boom year were over and many mines were unsuccessful.

There was no point in people sticking out the harsh conditions, fires, and general rowdiness of the town when they didn’t have anything to show for it.

Mining continued until 1942, but the population was dwindling fast.

Bodie california

James S. Cain was the last major landowner in Bodie, and his family hired people to protect the town from vandals, but it had stopped functioning as a working, thriving, town.

Instead, it was now a ghost town, and over the years the dust has only increased on the household items, schoolbooks, clothing, and storefronts that were simply frozen in time when people up and left.

Bodie california

Unlike Pioneertown , which is a Hollywood version of a Western town, Bodie is a real ghost town.

Today, it’s visited by curious modern-day sightseers who want to catch a glimpse of old mines and shootout corners, but in the late 1800s, it was a rough and tumble boomtown where thousands of men and some women and children worked tirelessly in the mines in hope of striking it rich.

Bodie california

What to See in Bodie

Bodie is left in a state of “arrested decay,” meaning that park rangers will stabilize the structures and conserve the artifacts, but will never fix anything in the town to a standard that it wasn’t when it became a state park.

Bodie california

This means that everything that you find really was left like that, or decayed in the harsh winters over time, and you can get right up close to many windows and inside homes to discover all that their owners left.

When you first get to Bodie there is a basic parking lot and some restrooms (but no cafes or anything like that), as well as a sign that gives you the history of Bodie.

If you don’t have the self-guided map, you simply walk around through all of the town (well, what’s left of it – about 5% of the original town still stands).

If you do have the self-guided map (we recommend it), you can learn more about each stop along the way.

Bodie california

For instance, you’ll come across a Methodist Church, Bodie’s only church that’s still standing (the others burned).

There are plenty of homes, like the J.S Cain Residence, which was home to the family that eventually sold Bodie to California State Parks in 1962.

Bodie california

Check out the red barn, the morgue, and the old barbershop.

The Miners Union Hall is now a museum, the only one in Bodie, and it served as a meeting place for the miners and hosted everything from parties to school recitals.

Bodie california

At one point you can stand in the spot of a shootout and then see where he was hung (yes, there were no rules in the Wild West!).

Bodie california

Check out the schoolhouse and other artifacts left inside some of the homes, including dishes covered in dust, reading glasses, and schoolbooks.

Bodie california

Much of what you’ll find will be ruins.

Bodie had a problem with fires, with two big ones burning in 1892 and then again in 1932.

You can see the Firehouse that still stands.

Bodie california

Then, there’s the mill, an ominous looking structure that is off limits to visitors due to the area being unsafe to walk through.

This was the Standard Mill, and it was the most successful of the 30 mining companies operating out of Bodie.

Here, the gold ore was discovered in 1875, setting off the rush to the town.

Bodie california

Bodie State Park FAQs

How to get to bodie.

The only way to get to Bodie is to drive, and you aren’t going to want to bring your most precious car because the unpaved road can do a number on it!

Bodie california

You’ll find it off of Highway 395.

Take State Road 270 east, about 10 miles, and then you’ll hit the final 3 miles which is essentially just a curvy, unpaved road.

visiting bodie ghost town

Make sure to fill up on gas before you take the turn onto 270, as there are no services along the way and getting stuck would be an unwelcome part of your trip to California.

Gas is expensive in the area (even more so than in the rest of California), but don’t do what we did and have to pray to the Bodie gods that we should have enough gas to get back to the highway safely!

How Much Does it Cost to Get Into Bodie?

Bodie costs $8 per adult and $5 for children, and there is a small charge if you want the self-guided map that tells you about each individual dwelling.

Bodie california

Bodie Opening Days and Hours

Bodie is open all year-round, with opening hours from May to October being 9am to 6pm, and the rest of the year from 9am to 3pm.

Bodie california

How Long to Spend in Bodie

Bodie is a fantastic day trip, and while there are a lot of buildings to see, it can be done in a couple of hours because most are not open to go inside.

We spent about 2 hours there, but you could do it in 1 if you wanted to just stop by on a road trip.

Equally, you could spend an entire afternoon or morning there if you wanted to take your time, but you wouldn’t need the entire day.

Bodie california

When Should You Visit Bodie?

Bodie is so far off the beaten path that it’s best visited in the late Spring, summer, or early Fall months.

The weather at other points in the year can be unpredictable and incredibly cold, and you don’t want to be snowed in on a day’s visit unless you have snowmobiles or snowshoes.

Bodie california

Does Anyone Still Live in Bodie, California

The only people who live in Bodie today are a couple of park rangers who tend to the place and accept the entrance fees.

Bodie is no longer a working town (which you’ll soon see when you see how many buildings are basically on the ground!)

Bodie california

What to Pack for a Day Trip to Bodie

There are no stores, gas stations, or services of any kind in Bodie except for some bathrooms, and it’s in such a high altitude that the weather can change very quickly.

We arrived in the sun and were taking off our sweaters (in October), but by the time we left around 3pm, the sky had turned, the wind had whipped up, and we had never been colder!

Bodie california

Make sure to pack these essentials for a trip to Bodie:

  • Portable phone charger – not only is there not really any cell service in Bodie, but of course there’s nowhere to charge things. Make sure you have a portable phone charger like this one just for emergencies and future GPS use once you leave Bodie.
  • Reusable water bottle – fill up a reusable water bottle and take it with you to stay hydrated (I love filtration ones like these )
  • Sturdy shoes – this is a ghost town and sturdy footwear is the best idea to make sure you’re staying safe, not tripping over any debris, and generally prepared for time in the Sierra Nevadas
  • Sunscreen – in the summer months, the elevation means that you’re going to experience sunburn even faster than you do at sea level, so lather on that sunscreen (I love this reef safe brand )

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The Atlas Heart


Bodie Ghost Town: Everything to Know About Visiting California’s Most Famous Ghost Town

bodie state park

TL;DR: We loved visiting Bodie Ghost Town to learn about gold rush history in an eerie, old, “cursed” town. This abandoned mining town of over 200 preserved buildings in Mono County is situated along an unpaved road that sometimes closes in winter. You’ll pay a small entrance fee and then be able to explore the photogenic western town and listen to free history talks.

Bodie State Historic Park is one of California’s best preserved ghost towns. 

Situated on the eastern flank of the Sierra Nevada, this Old West town encapsulates California gold rush history in a state of “arrested decay.” 

Below, I’ve created a complete guide to everything you need to know about visiting California’s most famous ghost town . 

From Bodie State Park facts to road conditions, tour options, and the *curse of Bodie* (insert scary music), you’ll be prepped for the best Bodie experience possible after reading this article.

Note: this article contains affiliate links, which help run this site at no extra cost to you so I can keep providing free travel advice and tips.

bodie state park

Table of Contents

Bodie State Park Practical Info

bodie state park practical info

  • Address: Bodie State Historic Park, CA-270, Bridgeport, CA 93517
  • Year established : 1859
  • Entrance fee : $8/adults and $5/kids (kids three and under are free). You can pay with a credit card at the kiosk, but if no one is there, you can place cash in the self-pay envelope in the parking lot.
  • Hours : 9am-6pm (May 15-Oct 31), 9am-4pm (Nov 1-May 14)
  • Amenities: Picnic area, flush toilets, museum (with bookstore). There are no commercial facilities (i.e., food and gas) at Bodie to preserve the ghost town atmosphere. 
  • Park website

Where is Bodie State Park in California?

where is bodie state park in california

Bodie State Historic Park is located east of Highway 395 on the east side of California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains. It lies between Bridgeport and Lee Vining in Mono County.

For a broader context, Mono County is north of Death Valley , northeast of Yosemite National Park , and south of Lake Tahoe .

How to Get to Bodie State Historic Park

how to get to bodie state historic park

Bodie ghost town is 13 miles down state route CA-270, off Highway 395. All but the last three miles are paved roads. 

Note that these last three miles can be difficult at times, especially after rain or snow. It can even become unpassable in winter and may close down.

That said, it’s perfectly fine for any type of car during most of the summer. 

From San Francisco : Take I-580 E to CA-120 E to CA 108E. Go south on US-395 before taking CA-270 E to Bodie.

From Sacramento : Take CA-99 S to US-50E and then to CA-89 S before getting onto US-395 and then CA-270 E to Bodie. 

From Yosemite National Park : Take US-120 E to Lee Vining and turn north on US-395 before turning east onto CA-270 E to Bodie. 

From Death Valley: Take CA-190 W to CA-136 N towards Lone Pine. Take US-395 N past Mammoth Lakes and Lee Vining and turn east onto CA-270 E to Bodie. 

Things to See and Do in Bodie State Historic Park

Methodist church.

methodist church

In my opinion, the Methodist church in Bodie ghost town is one of the better-preserved buildings.

Built in 1882, the Methodist church survived several fires that consumed the Catholic church. 

While you’re there, ask a ranger about the two clergymen who lived in Bodie ghost town: Reverend Hinkle and Father Cassin. 

J.S. Cain House

j.s. cain house

James S. Cain was a prominent businessman in Bodie. His abandoned house sits at the corner of Park and Green Streets and is supposedly haunted by the ghost of a Chinese maid. 

Park rangers still live in the house (that would be a big no thanks from me), and they report that while the ghost doesn’t like adults, she loves children. 

Swazey Hotel

swazey hotel

The Swazey Hotel is so picturesque because it’s slanted. Miners constructed these buildings in a hurry, after all.

There are some wooden supports on one side to keep it propped up. Over the years, this building has housed a clothing store, casino, and the Swazey.

General Store

general store

One of my favorite buildings to look inside is the general store because the goods still line the shelves! 

You can see wooden buckets of sweets, canned goods, and the old cash register ready for business. 

Dechambeau Hotel and I.O.O.F.

dechambeau hotel and i.o.o.f

On your walk through this California ghost town, you’re bound to notice the pink brick building next to a wooden structure standing by itself. 

The brick building was the Dechambeau Hotel, which featured the Bodie Cafe–one of the last businesses in operation before the town closed. Note: some sources list the pink brick building as the old post office as well. 

To the right of the brick building is the I.O.O.F. Building, which stands for Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

If you squint, you can still see those letters etched above the windows. This building served as a gym and meeting hall. 

Firefighting Station

firefighting station

You can still see the old, horse-drawn firefighting wagons displayed in Bodie.

The town used to host an annual “Firefighter’s Ball” at the Union hall to raise money for uniforms and equipment for the firefighters.

Bodie Morgue

bodie morgue

You haven’t really visited Bodie until you’ve checked out the morgue.

The Bodie morgue was built in 1910 and purportedly was originally a photography studio, hence the bright interior paint and fancy wallpaper. 

Today, you’ll see dilapidated coffins strewn throughout the building. 

Henry Ward was the undertaker and the cabinet maker in town. A park ranger at Bodie made this video inside the morgue–it starts to get good around 2:50.

Standard Mine and Mill

standard mine and mill

No trip to a gold mining town in California is complete without a stop at the gold mine and mill that made the town, right?

Today, you can take a tour of the mill  (only available between May and October.)

Take a Tour

take a tour

The Bodie Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to preserving Bodie, offers many fun tours.

Free History Talks

These are held most days at 10 am and 4 pm. Double-check at the entrance kiosk when you arrive.

Stamp Mill Tour

$6/person, most days at 11 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm. 

Private Town Tours

These are pricey. It’s a minimum of $200 for groups from 1-4, and $50 for each additional person. The tour is two hours long. 

Twilight Tours

From 5-7 pm May through September, you can get an after-hours tour of this far west town. 

Ghost Walks

You can take a nighttime Bodie Ghost Walk tour for three nights only. The tickets go quickly, and the pre-sale begins in March (I’m totes going to be looking out for these next year!). 

There’s an astronomy program, too, once the ghost walking is over.  

Practice Photography

practice photography

Ghost towns provide a natural backdrop for photography. Check out Bodie Foundation’s workshops if you’re gung-ho about Bodie photography.

Photography Workshops

These workshops allow you to access the interior of some buildings (with an escort, of course). The proceeds from these workshops directly help Bodie preservation projects.

Where to Stay Near Bodie Ghost Town

where to stay near bodie ghost town

There isn’t a campground in Bodie State Park ghost town, but there are many camping options or hotels near Bodie. 

Mammoth Lakes Condo (1 hr 15 mins): Mammoth Lakes is a charming little mountain town south of Bodie ghost town on Highway 395. Mammoth Lakes is close to June Lake, another popular tourist destination. 

Virginia Creek Settlement (33 mins): Virginia Creek Settlement in Bridgeport, CA offers rustic accommodations and an Italian restaurant on-site, all within 30 minutes of the ghost town of Bodie.

Lundy Canyon Campground (42 mins): Lundy Canyon Campground, north of Lee Vining, CA, off Highway 395, offers the best camping near Bodie State Park.

History of Bodie State Park

history of bodie state park

The land currently known as Bodie State Historic Park was the traditional homeland of the Western Mono, Washoe, and Northern Paiute tribes. 

Today, people visit to walk the deserted streets of this abandoned California mining town known as Bodie. 

Waterman S. Body discovered gold in the hills north of Lee Vining in 1859. Although he died before he could earn a fortune from it, the location of the gold didn’t remain a secret. 

In the 1870s, the nearby Bunker Hill Mine hit pay dirt and was profitable for the next 25 years. 

By 1879, the small town had boomed to a population of 10,000. Like many Wild West towns in the gold rush era, Bodie developed a reputation for lawlessness.

At its peak, Bodie had over 60 saloons, gambling halls, opium dens, three breweries, and a red light district–like an Old West version of Las Vegas.

Streetfights and murders were, apparently, an almost daily occurrence here. Despite the danger, several tamer businesses also existed, including a post office, two churches, and a school.

The gold and silver couldn’t last forever, however. By 1882, the town’s population had declined significantly. 

By 1886, only 1,500 residents remained and a massive fire in 1892 pretty well ended Bodie’s productive history. 

By 1942, the last residents left this Old West town for good. 

In 1962, Bodie ghost town was designated a state historic park and a National Historic Landmark.

Park managers have chosen to leave this national historic site in a “state of arrested decay,” which means they’re allowing Bodie to remain as is without any major renovations.

Bodie State Park Weather & Best Time to Visit

bodie state park weather best time to visit

The best time to visit Bodie State Park is in the late spring, summer, and early fall.

Bodie State Park’s elevation is relatively high (8,375 ft), so the winter can be snowy with an impassible dirt road.

Tips for Visiting Bodie State Historic Park

tips for visiting bodie state historic park

Check Road Conditions in Winter

If you’re visiting in winter, check the Bodie State Historic Park website and the Caltrans Road Information website (for SR 270), or call the Mono County Information Office at 800-845-7922.

State Route 270 closes in winter when there’s enough snow accumulation.


Theft has been a problem at Bodie for decades. Bodie ghost town is a historic site, so please don’t collect any informal souvenirs while walking the grounds. 

Not only does this diminish the park’s historical value, but you will be cursed. 

Seriously, the curse of Bodie says that if you take anything, you’ll bring misfortune upon yourself. 

Don’t take my word for it. Read through the hundreds of remorseful letters and packages sent back to Bodie over the years. 

“You can have these godforsaken rocks back. I’ve never had so much rotten luck in my life. Please forgive me for ever testing the curse of Bodie.” –2004 Letter to Bodie

Sadly, even if you mail your stolen item back, park staff can’t just “put it back.” 

They have no idea where you took it from, so that item will sit in a closet from then on, and no one will be able to enjoy seeing it in context.

Check the Entrance Hours

Unlike many California state parks , which are usually open 24/7, you can’t visit Bodie ghost town at night. 

The reason is for both the park and public protection. The summer hours (May 14-October 31) are 9 am-6 pm, and the winter hours (Nov 1-May 14) are 9 am-4 pm.

Fun Facts About Bodie State Park

fun facts about bodie state park

  • The town of Bodie mined more than 38 million dollars in gold and silver.
  • There are almost 200 abandoned buildings in Bodie ghost town. 
  • Many Chinese immigrants worked in Bodie at its peak.
  • Several buildings on Main Street were moved there from other parts after the July 1892 fire.
  • A two-year-old boy playing with matches started the 1932 fire. This fire destroyed 95% of the buildings in Bodie.
  • Bodie’s building interiors remain intact, with shelves still stacked with goods and furniture.

FAQs About Bodie State Historic Park

faqs about bodie state historic park

Why is Bodie State Park so cold?

Bodie State Park is so cold because of its high elevation. In Northern California, at an elevation of more than 8,300 feet, it can get very chilly. So, bring a jacket when you visit.

Is Bodie worth visiting?

Absolutely! The small town of Bodie, California is the best-preserved ghost town of the California Gold Rush . 

With nearly 200 abandoned buildings still standing in a state of arrested decay, you’ll get a vivid sense of what the gold rush in California was like.

Is the road to Bodie paved or do you need a 4WD?

Bodie ghost town is 13 miles down State Route 270, east of US-395. All but the last three miles are paved roads, and you usually don’t need 4WD. 

With that said during the winter season and the days after rainstorms can be difficult to drive the road to Bodie. Always stay on designated roads.

What is the curse of Bodie?

This gold mining ghost town is one of the only California state parks that comes with a curse.

As it goes, anyone who takes anything–even a rock–from the far west town of Bodie will experience bad luck, illness, and mysterious accidents. 

About once a week, Bodie State Park receives a remorseful letter from a “cursed” person who foolishly takes something from the site.

Who founded Bodie?

Bodie, CA was founded by Waterman S. Body in 1859 after discovering gold in the hills north of Mono Lake. The town, Bodie, is a slight misspelling of Mr. Body’s actual name.

Why did Bodie, California become abandoned?

why did bodie california become abandoned

Bodie, California became abandoned due to a combination of factors. The primary reason is that the gold and silver in the Bodie Hills dried up. 

Second, two massive fires damaged significant parts of the town in 1892 and 1932.

When did Bodie, California become a ghost town?

Bodie, California became a ghost town in 1942 when the last residents left the Old West town for good.

Is Bodie, California haunted?

The Wild West ghost town of Bodie is definitely haunted. I mean, if you believe in that kind of thing. 

In its heyday, street fights and murders were almost daily, so it’s not lacking angry spirit material. There have been numerous ghost sightings in many of Bodie’s buildings.

Is Bodie Ghost Town open?

Bodie ghost town is open all year. However, in the winter months, the road to Bodie may close.

In winter, you can access Bodie State Historic Park via snowshoe or snowmobile.

How much time do you recommend visiting Bodie Ghost Town?

There’s a lot to see in this small town! Plan to spend at least half a day exploring Bodie.

What’s there to do near Bodie, California?

The Old West town of Bodie is just east of Yosemite National Park, south of Lake Tahoe, and north of Mammoth Lakes, so there is *plenty* to do around Bodie ghost town.


author bio - Meredith Dennis

Meredith Dennis

Meredith is a biologist and writer based in California’s Sierra Nevada. She has lived in 6 states as a biologist, so her intel on hiking and camping is *chef’s kiss* next level. One of her earliest camping memories was being too scared to find a bathroom at night on a family camping trip. Thankfully, she’s come a long way since then and she can help you get there too!

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Bodie Ghost Town: Everything to Know About Visiting California\'s Most Famous Ghost Town

1 thought on “Bodie Ghost Town: Everything to Know About Visiting California’s Most Famous Ghost Town”

Very well written and informative. Thank you. My friend is coming to visit from Florida in August and I wanted/will plan a day trip from Reno, Nevada for us. It sounds like a terrific place for us to visit. Mom wants to come along as well😃

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visiting bodie ghost town

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Day Trip to Bodie Ghost Town from Mammoth

January 21, 2022

If you are a lover of all things creepy or rustic, Bodie Ghost Town is the perfect day trip. And if you aren’t? It’s still one of the more unique and quirky destinations in California, and well worth the visit. This historic cowboy town captures the true essence of the lost Wild West days. And if you’re already spending time in Mammoth, it makes the perfect day trip for when you need a break from hiking or climbing. Here is how to plan the perfect day trip to Bodie Ghost Town from Mammoth.

Bodie church in Bodie Ghost Town

About Bodie Town

Bodie is a historic mining town located in the Eastern Sierra Mountains in California, about 2.5 hours from Mammoth Lakes. It was founded in 1859, and came to its peak about 20 years later in the 1880s. At the height of its glory days, it was home to over 10,000 people from all over the country and the world hoping to strike it rich with the gold rush.

It was a lawless wild town, a reality not a far stretch from those wild west Hollywood cowboy movies. Rowdy citizens, seedy saloons, opium dens, gambling halls, plus being home to numerous outlaws – this town has seen some things, to say the least.

Unfortunately the glory days didn’t last long, and the slow decline of Bodie began just a few years after its peak. By 1942 the official last residents of Bodie moved out and it became a ghost town. In 1962, it became a California State Park as a historical site “arrested in decay”, meaning protected in its current state as a ghost town.

girl in front of Bodie Ghost Town

A day trip to Bodie Ghost Town requires a bit of planning, for a few reasons. For one, Bodie is an official California state park, meaning it has an entrance time and fee – you can’t come and go as you please.

In summer, it’s opening hours are from 9am – 5pm, while in winter it closes at 3pm. It is possible to visit Bodie at night by joining a private tour or a ghost tour (more on that later).

view inside the church of Bodie

Peak Season

The most popular time to visit Bodie Ghost Town is in the summer, from late May until the beginning of September. Keep in mind this will likely be the busiest time in the park, which can detract from the creepy factor (if you are into that, like I am).

Also bear in mind that Bodie is situated at over 8,000 feet above sea level, meaning it can get pretty cold even in summer. Shoulder season is also a good time to visit, as it will have less people but still acceptable weather.

I visited in late September on a weekday and it was perfectly sunny, and with very few people. However even in early autumn there was major wind which made it bitterly cold at times. No mater which season you visit, I highly recommend bringing a good jacket, sunglasses, and sunscreen.

abandoned truck in Bodie Ghost Town

It is open year round apart from federal holidays. In winter, depending on weather conditions, Bodie does become inaccessible by car. In times of snow, you can only enter Bodie by snowmobile, skis or other non-motor vehicle forms of transport since it’s common for cars to get stuck otherwise. Winter conditions are known to be extreme so I don’t recommend visiting in this season.

Spring isn’t much better either as it can be really wet and muddy – not entirely enjoyable.

How to Get There

From Mammoth, you’ll have to drive about 2.5 hours to reach Bodie Town, making it a 5 hour roundtrip journey if you’re doing it as a day trip from Mammoth.

You’ll take the 395N passing Mono Lake on the way, and then 270E. The last three miles or so of this drive are on windy, unsurfaced roads so expect to drive really slow.

junk left in Bodie Ghost Town

You’ll have to pay the entrance fee of $8 USD per adult ($5 for kids) and once you park your car you are free to explore! I opted to pay I think $5 more for a map and history guide of Bodie. I highly recommend this, as it really gives you some context and history about each building and corner of the ghost town. And let me just say, there is a LOT going on here.

You’ll read stories about murders, the seedy corners of Bodie and their dark history, opium parties, cowboy shoot outs, scandals, tragedy and more.

8 Things to See on a Day Trip to Bodie Ghost Town

Today what’s left standing is a fraction of what Bodie once was. The town saw a number of fires in its past, the last of which burned down 95% of the town.

But you can imagine it in its prime: 10,000 residents from around the world, 2,000 buildings in total, over 60 saloons, countless brothels, numerous opium dens, 3 churches, and 0 law enforcement.

What I regretted most was having less than 2 hours to spare on my day trip to Bodie Ghost Town. This ghost town has a lot to see, and its sites are somewhat sprawled out over the hills. Once you factor in all there is to see, the walking time, plus photography time, I really recommend planning to spend a minimum of 3 hours here. Make that 4 – 5 hours if you plan to do some serious photography.

1. The Cemetery

view of Bodie Ghost Town from the cemetery

Start or end your time exploring Bodie by heading to the cemetery a short distance away from the town up a hill. The cemetery is likely the best vantage point for taking in the view of the entire town of Bodie from above. Naturally, this makes it a great photospot.

It’s also worthwhile to visit the graves onsite, as it gives a huge perspective to who exactly once inhabited this bustling town. You’ll see entire families buried together, and notice the immensely high number of folks who tragically met an early death living in Bodie.

2. Miner’s Union Hall

View of the Miner's Hall in Bodie

The Miner’s Hall of Bodie was once a place of celebration and community, as it held many parties, meetings and events back in the day. Today, it is a museum and gift shop, and home to some seriously fascinating artifacts from the town. You’ll find all types of items, including opium pipes, old Chinese artwork, letters, and more, all telling the story of Bodie’s past.

If you wish to buy a postcard or souvenir, this is also the place to do so.

3. Chinatown

haunte house in Bodie Ghost Town

Bodie was home to many Southern Chinese immigrants, who lived on the outskirts of town and formed their own mini-Chinatown. This area was home to Chinese-ran laundry services, gambling halls and of course, the infamous opium dens. It was known to be a seedier part of the town for sure, and a hotspot for crime.

Sadly, these minority residents faced a lot of discrimination from the locals of Bodie.

4. The Church

day trip to Bodie Ghost Town

The methodist church is easily the most prominent structure left standing in Bodie. It’s the only church left in the town, and is one of the most intact buildings left from the area. You can’t go inside though, because the building is not actually stable enough. But don’t worry, you can visit the interiors of plenty of the other houses in the town.

5. J.S Cain House

J S Cain House in Bodie

James Stuart Cain was a prominent figure who built himself a small empire right here in Bodie at the height of its boom.

He moved to Bodie at the age of 25, and started off working in the lumber business. He was involved with transporting timber across nearby Mono Lake to be used in the mining shafts in Bodie.

In the end, he became the owner of several properties across the town of Bodie and well as the most important mines. He rightfully established his title as the town’s most wealthy person. Today, this home of his shows large windows with various bottles on display.

6. The Schoolhouse

a piano in the schoolhouse in Bodie Ghost Town

This is one of the best preserved and largest structures left in Bodie Town. Unfortunately you can’t go inside, but you can peer into the many classroom windows which literally look stuck in time. Lesson plans are still on the walls, and writing still on the chalkboard.

7. The Stamp Mill

The stamp mill can be seen from far away both due to it’s size compared to the rest of Bodie, and it’s uniform blue colored facilities.

Tourists can no longer enter the area of the stamp mills without paying for a tour. When asked why, a park ranger told me, “you can’t trust tourists to not fall into a shaft down to their death”.

To visit the stamp mill, you can book a stamp mill tour onsite at the visitor’s office. There are also ghost tours of the mill available at night for a more thrilling experience.

8. Boone Store & Warehouse

Vintage goods in Boone Store & Warehouse in Bodie Ghost Town

This shop was a general store built in 1879 by Mr. Harvey Boone. Back in the day you could purchase all your everyday needs here like food, coffee and gas. It’s an interesting place to have a peek because most of the shelves are still stocked with vintage posters and household goods from back in that era; like stepping back in time.

It’s eerie, you can really get a feel for how quickly Bodie must have declined when you see how much people left behind. They must have been in a hurry to leave when they did.

Bodie Ghost Stories

Okay, now that we’ve covered the practical stuff, let’s get into the real fun of doing a day trip to Bodie Ghost Town. There are a number of interesting and supernatural stories surrounding this once thriving town of sin. Here are some of the main ones to keep you on your toes while you visit.

junk and abandoned homes in Bodie

Bodie Curse

The Curse of Bodie is a legend that precedes the reputation of this town at times. The curse entails that if any visitors takes home any items from the town, whether it be as small as a pebble – they will be cursed. Interestingly, the State Park rangers have admitted that they were the ones who made up this curse in an attempt to stop people from stealing the remaining objects from the town.

Back when Bodie had just been abandoned, it suffered from a lot of looting. People came and took what they wanted and left. So the curse was invented by California State Parks and Recreation as a form of anti-theft.

Weirdly, the curse seems to actually stick. Every week the ranger claim they receive letters, often unmarked, from an apologetic visitor who wants to send back something they took from Bodie.

From pieces of glass, to an entire piano that was once stolen, these all end up finding their way back to Bodie via remorseful letters from believers in the curse.

You can now see some of these letters in the Bodie museum in the Miner’s Hall.

the schoolhouse in Bodie Ghost Town

Bodie Ghosts

Bodie Ghost Town is also home to many stories of ghosts, which you can hear all about by booking a ghost tour in the evening. This is also a great opportunity to get access to Bodie at night! Great for photography and a much different ambience for seeing the town.

If you don’t have time to stay after dark, just find a park ranger and ask them about their experiences or stories. Odds are they will be happy to share, and probably even enthusiastic. I heard a lot of interesting stories just by asking. Here are some supposed ghosts that haunt Bodie:

A park ranger told me the story of a mining mule that sadly died in the shafts while working. They suspected the horse suffocated after a part of the mine collapsed or died of an injury.

At a later time, when another miner was doing work in one of the shafts, he saw a white mule appear. It’s said that he shortly died in the mine later. It became a superstition among the miners that if you saw the horse, it meant you’d have an accident in the mines.

J.S Cain House Ghost

Park rangers are the only ones left living in Bodie, and there was a time when the J.S Cain house was occupied by park staff. Many claim that the home is haunted by a Chinese maid.

the J S Cain House window with bottles in Bodie

Bodie’s Last Resident

There is a story of the last days of Bodie, when it was down to just six residents. A man was murdered by his neighbors after he shot his wife, and is said to still haunt his neighbors houses.

Gregory House

It’s reported that some visitors see the ghost of an older woman when looking through the windows of this home. They say she is usually found knitting or sitting in one of the chairs.

Tips for Visiting Bodie Ghost Town

1. Bring Sunscreen

Bodie is located at high elevation and is often very sunny. Wear sunscreen to avoid sunburn.

2. Bring a Thick Jacket

Regardless of the time of year, the elevation can make Bodie a pretty cold place to visit. When I visited we had insanely harsh winds from time to time, so I was grateful to have a jacket to take on and off depending on the wind.

3. Visit In Summer or Fall

Although Bodie Town State Park claims its open year-round, the weather is extreme in winter, and the town becomes hard to access. In spring, the snow turns into mud, which makes it uncomfortable to walk around the town. Try to visit in summer, on a weekday (for slightly less crowds) or in early autumn.

4. Wear Good Shoes

Bodie is sprawled out and on unpaved ground. Bring good shoes because you will do quite a bit of walking on dusty roads.

5. Bring Cash

They didn’t accept card payments when I went, so have some cash on you for the entrance fee.

6. Bring Snacks

There is no place in Bodie that sells food or anything really, apart from the few souvenirs available in the museum. Just the drive out here alone takes some time, plus the time you’ll spend exploring can easily mean going all day without food. Bring your own snacks and drinks. There are seating areas to eat as well.

old homes in Bodie Ghost Town

And that’s all you need to know to plan the perfect day trip to Bodie Ghost Town from Mammoth, or anywhere really. We almost skipped visiting Bodie, but I’m so glad we didn’t. Besides being one of the best preserved ghost towns left in California, it’s the stories of this places legendary past that make it a place you won’t forget.


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January 23, 2022 at 7:14 am

ahhh this puts me in such a mood! I love abandoned towns and places and i’m loving the vibe in this town!

visiting bodie ghost town

January 23, 2022 at 4:08 pm

I love how detailed and organized this post is! Now I really want to visit Bodie.

visiting bodie ghost town

January 23, 2022 at 4:37 pm

Oh my gosh! This is SO cool. I’m so happy I came across your blog post because I had never heard of Bodie Ghost Town, and now I’m dying to visit! I’d love to plan a little girls trip here with some of my friends even. All of your pictures are gorgeous btw. Thanks for sharing! Xx Sara

visiting bodie ghost town

January 23, 2022 at 4:41 pm

This looks like a perfect day trip to Bodie Ghost Town from Mammoth. I would love to explore this area.

visiting bodie ghost town

January 23, 2022 at 7:39 pm

I LOVE this kind of thing. What an amazing place to visit. I don’t think I have ever seen a ghost town in such good condition – I guess it makes sense once you know Bodie is an official California state park. The ghost towns we have found have always been much more overgrown or falling down. I love that Bodie oozes with history that you can see for yourself. It would make a great film set!

visiting bodie ghost town

February 21, 2022 at 11:00 pm

I went to Bodie on three occasions back in the early 90s. It is fascinating and should be visited by every American. I have researched it extensively and you are wrong when you say that there was no law enforcement. Bodie had its own police department, and there was a sheriff’s substation right in town. It had its own justice court that could hear all cases except death penalty cases. Those were heard in Bridgeport, the county seat. Also, at one time the Cain family owned Bodie, but they gifted it to the State for a park. The Cain family retains the right for family members to be married in the church and to be buried in the cemetery. This is from the state parks own literature that I read years ago. I have to add that only the “good” citizens of Bodie were buried inside the fenced in area of the cemetery. Other people were buried right outside, so look down as you walk around it.

visiting bodie ghost town

February 22, 2022 at 9:02 am

Hi Bob, thank you for letting me know. I’ll do a bit more research and update the article 🙂 I just went off what one of the rangers said, but I guess she was speaking figuratively, not literally, about there being “no one upholding the law”. I agree every American should visit this place, it has definitely now put all the other ghost towns of America on my radar.

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visiting bodie ghost town

Home > Road Trip Itineraries > West Coast > California Road Trip Itineraries > Northern California Road Trip > Bodie’s Ghost Town: A Jewel of the Old West!

Bodie Ghost Town California Cosa Vedere

Bodie’s Ghost Town: A Jewel of the Old West!

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If you’ve always been fascinated by the Old West , the cowboys, and Sergio Leone’s movies, then you should definitely go to Bodie , the ghost town par excellence , the most authentic and well-preserved Western town you will ever visit.

What to Do in Bodie Ghost Town

Some historical information, where is bodie and how do you get there, when is the best time to visit the ghost town, where to stay in bodie, pictures of the ghost town.

Bodie, California… “a small town frozen in time”… This is how the town is described on the official website and no description could be more fitting. Bodie was abandoned in the days of the Old West and, despite having suffered the damage caused by the inevitable passage of time, is now well preserved.

As soon as you enter the Old West town , you will be surrounded by typical, perfectly preserved wooden houses, as well as saloons, shops, private homes, the sheriff’s house, a small Methodist church, the mine on the other side of the hill, and much more.

what to do in bodie

Visiting Bodie is definitely the most impressive experience of the Old West. In some cases, you can even enter and walk around the houses, venture into the rooms among the furniture and utensils of the time. So this is not a reconstruction, but a real town (a ghost town!) that is a valuable historical testimony to the legendary Far West .

where is bodie california

Bodie was founded by William S. Bodey, who discovered a gold mine nearby in 1859. Since then, the city expanded as a hub for miners, but soon gangsters, prostitutes, thieves, and gamblers gathered there. The town became populated with saloons (65) and brothels, and became a very dangerous place to live. People were murdered on a daily basis.

The peak of the town was in 1880, when the population reached 10,000 inhabitants. Today, there are about one hundred preserved buildings.

Bodie is in California, east of the Sierra Nevada , and is part of Mono County, best known for the beautiful Mono Lake (we talked about it in this itinerary ). To reach the town, you’ll have to take the US-395 , the major road that connects the Mojave Desert to the Canadian border.

how to get to bodie california

Once you arrive in Mono County you will have to take State Route 270, a rather short road, which ends just as you arrive in Bodie . The final part of the route is on a dirt road and is a bit bumpy, nothing dramatic anyway.

Make sure you have enough gas. Before entering the heart of the Far West, remember that there are no gas stations in the ghost town (and it seems natural…). So, if you are running low on gas, refuel at Lee Vining or Bridgeport (depending on which direction you’re coming from).

Here is the route that awaits you!

While getting to Bodie is quite easy, it’s not as simple to plan an itinerary, as it is always subject to change depending on staff availability or weather conditions (call to be sure).

In general, however, the ghost town is open from the end of May to September from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm and during the rest of the year from 9:00 am to 4:00  pm (check the official website of California state parks in case the times change over time). In the winter, Bodie is often covered in snow and you need to plan accordingly to visit it. In this western jewel, there is also a museum that is open between May and October.

where to stay in bodie

Hotels in the area

If you follow the classic route to travel through this area (you usually cross Yosemite via the Tioga Road down to Death Valley along the Eastern Sierra ), my advice is to look for accommodations in Mammoth Lakes .

List of accommodations in Mammoth Lakes

I’ll conclude this article with some pictures of Bodie. See you next time!

bodie CA 1

Warning: Operating hours can change and closures for extraordinary events can occur, so we strongly suggest to check the venues official websites.

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lorenzo puliti

I am fascinated by the wonders of the world I never tire of going in search of them.

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Bodie State Historic Park – Guide to California’s Ghost Town

Bodie State Historic Park is a genuine California gold-mining ghost town , where you can walk down the deserted streets of a city that once had a population of nearly 10,000 people and fell a true atmosphere from wild western movies.

In this article, you can find all the important information you need to know before visiting Bodie as well as lots of pictures to give you an idea, what you can see there.

Obsah / Table of Contents

History of Bodie

  • 1859 – First establishment of the gold mining camp.
  • 1876 – Discovery of a profitable deposit of gold-bearing ore, which transformed Bodie from a small mining camp to Wild West boomtown.
  • 1879 – Bodie had a population of approximately 5,000–7,000 people and around 2,000 buildings.
  • 1881 – A narrow-gauge railroad was build bringing lumber, cordwood, and mine timbers to the mining district from Mono Mills south of Mono Lake.
  • 1912 – First signs of an official decline.
  • 1917 – Bodie Railway was abandoned and its iron tracks were scrapped.
  • 1942 – The Last mine was closed due to War Production Board order L-208.

Read more about Bodie history at Wikipedia .

Bodie State Historic Park-36

How to get to Bodie State Historic Park

Bodie is situated northeast of famous Yosemite National Park and north of Mono Lake.

From U.S. 395 seven miles south of Bridgeport, take State Route 270. Drive 10 miles east to the end of the paved road and continue 3 miles on a dirt road to Bodie. The last 3 miles can at times be rough. Reduced speeds are necessary. You can call the park (760 616-5040) if you want to ask about road conditions.

  • From Yosemite: Bodie is around 2 hours 45 minutes drive.
  • From Lake Tahoe: Bodie is around 2 hours 15 minutes drive.

What to see in Bodie Historic State Park

The whole town of Bodie looks much the same as it did over 50 years ago when the last residents left. You will see all the historical buildings and sites including bank, church, post office, museum, stamp mill, graveyard or various abandoned machinery and cars.

  • Check this Online Interactive Map with descriptions of all the important sights
  • You can buy a paper map for $2 at the ticket office.

Bodie State Historic Park Ghost Town California

Practical Tips

Opening hours.

  • Summer hours: 9 am – 6 pm (April 15th to November 3rd)
  • Winter hours: 9 am – 4 pm (November 4th to April 15th)

Visiting in Winter

Bodie is open all year round. However, because of the high elevation (8375 feet), it is accessible only by snowmobiles, skis, or snowshoes during winter.

Winter weather is often unpredictable. Sub-zero temperatures, strong winds, and white-out conditions are common. Local towing services are not always available and can be very expensive.

Entrance fee

Only cash or personal/traveler’s checks are accepted

  • 18+ Adults: $8 per person
  • 4 – 17 years old: $5
  • children under 3: free
  • $2 extra for map (optional)

How much time do you need for a visit?

Generally speaking, 3-4 hours should be enough time for visiting Bodie State Historic Park. If you want to visit every single building and take a lot of pictures, plan rather 5 hours.

Bodie is a ghost town. To preserve its genuine original atmosphere, there are no commercial facilities, such as food, souvenir shops or gas station.

  • Restrooms (flush toilets) are located at the parking lot and the picnic area.
  • There is a small bookstore inside the museum.
  • Dogs are permitted in Bodie but they must be on a leash at all times.
  • Please clean up after your pet!
  • Dogs aren’t allowed on the Stamp Mill tour or in the Museum.

Drones are completely forbidden in Bodie Historic State Park. (California Code of Regulations, Title 14, Section 4326 A)

What should I take for a day trip to Bodie?

  • Because of the high elevation (8375 feet), Bodie can get very cold, very quickly even during the summer months. Bring some warm clothes and a wind jacket.
  • Bring enough water. Hiking in such a high elevation could be tiring and you should drink a lot.

Bodie State Historic Park-19 Gost Town

Bodie Tours, Events, and Workshops

It’s totally fine to visit Bodie without any tour, however, we recommend taking at least a free historic talk tour (daily 10am – 4pm). If you love photography, you can join one of the photography workshops. There are other special tours held just a few times a year at exact dates. Read more information here:

  • Public and Private Tours
  • Photography Workshops
  • Bodie 601 Run

Bodie Ghost Town Tours

Where to stay near Bodie State Historic Park

The nearest accommodation to Bodie is Virginia Creek Settlement . It has good reviews and it’s decently priced.

Virginia Creek Settlement

If you prefer something a little bit fancier, choose a 2-star hotel Silver Maple Inn and The Cain House Country Suites in Bridgeport.

Silver Maple Inn and The Cain House Country Suites (2)

If you want something more budget-friendly, Big Meadow Lodge in Bridgeport is a good option.

Big Meadow Lodge -2


The nearest campgrounds are Green Creek Campground and Trumbull Lake Campground .

Bodie Video

Watch this great video from Bodie State Historic Park:

YouTube video

Bodie Ghost Town Photos

We took so many pictures in Bodie ghost town and we are happy to share them with you. You can click on any picture to open it in a higher resolution.

Bodie State Historic Park Ghost Town California

Best Things to See on Your West Coast Road Trip

Are you planning a road trip vacation? Don’t miss the most beautiful places and national parks. We have prepared a list of places and a road trip map for you:  Road Trip USA – 23 Best places to visit on the West Coast .

More tips for your travels:

We have prepared for you this comprehensive list of links, discounts, and resources for travel planning in one place. Bookmark this page and whenever you plan a vacation in the future, just open it and save yourself a lot of time.

1) Where to book accommodation?

  • We prefer to find an accommodation using .
  • It's also worth it to compare with AirBnb .
  • Read also our guide - How to search for the best accommodation .

2) How to find cheap flights?

  • We recommend searching for flights on Skyscanner .
  • Read also our complete guide - How to find cheap flights .

3) How to rent a car?

  • We recommend a comparison portal to compare the best offers of all available rental companies.

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Bodie – FAQ – frequently asked questions:

The nearest accommodation to Bodie is  Virginia Creek Settlement . It has good reviews and it’s decently priced.

If you prefer something a little bit fancier, choose a 2-star hotel  Silver Maple Inn and The Cain House Country Suites  in Bridgeport.

If you want something more budget-friendly, Big Meadow Lodge  in Bridgeport is a good option.

The nearest campgrounds are  Green Creek Campground  and  Trumbull Lake Campground .

How to get to Bodie State Historic Park?

From U.S. 395 seven miles south of Bridgeport, take State Route 270. Drive 10 miles east to the end of the paved road and continue 3 miles on a dirt road to Bodie. The last 3 miles can at times be rough. Reduced speeds are necessary. You can call the park (760 616-5040) if you want to ask about road conditions.

What is the entrance fee to Bodie?

18+ Adults : $8 per person 4 – 17 years old : $5 children under 3 : free $2 extra for map (optional)

Only cash or personal/traveler’s checks are accepted

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The Van Escape

Bodie Ghost Town

Visiting Bodie Ghost Town is the most authentic way to experience the scene of the California Gold Rush. Located in the Bodie Hills east of the Sierra Nevada in Mono County, it’s the perfect idea for a day trip if you are in the Lake Tahoe or Yosemite National Park area. So check out our tips and photos of Bodie State Historic Park. You’ll learn everything you need to know before the trip.

Bodie Ghost Town

What is Bodie Ghost Town?

The abandoned town of Bodie is a remarkable open-air museum and a perfect representation of the California Gold Rush with all its ups and downs. Today it is managed by Bodie State Historic Park. While visiting Bodie Ghost Town, you can admire a total of 170 buildings remaining from the gold rush times. Bodie is an authentic Wild West ghost town worth visiting during a California road trip. If you plan to travel to California , add this place to your bucket list.

Bodie Ghost Town

Where is Bodie Ghost Town?

Bodie is about 75 miles (121 km) southeast of Lake Tahoe and 12 miles (19 km) east-southeast of Bridgeport. It is only 45 miles (72 km) from Yosemite National Park – from the entrance gate east – Tioga Pass. Importantly, it is at an elevation of 8,379 feet (2554 m), so there is plenty of snow in the winter.

Bodie Ghost Town

Bodie Ghost Town History

The town is named for Waterman S. Body (William Bodey), who discovered small amounts of gold in the hills north of Mono Lake. Bodie experienced its golden age in 1876 when a large vein of gold was discovered near it. The tiny town’s population of only 20 grew to 10,000 within four years. From 1877 to 1882, Bodie produced more than $38 million in gold and silver.

The climate in the town of Bodie is almost wild. In summer, the sun blazes with its rays, and in winter (which begins in November), the houses are often covered with snow. There are severe frosts and strong winds.

Bodie Ghost Town

Nevertheless, in the peak years of its prosperity, Bodie had nearly 12,000 inhabitants, most of whom were employed in the nearby gold mine. During Bodie’s heyday, residents had access to as many as 60 saloons along Main Street, casinos, churches, hotels, a railroad, and a jail. The Chinese had their own district in the town. It included a Taoist temple and an opium smoking room. The town quickly gained notoriety. Bodie was known for its lousy climate, rogues, brawls in the saloons, and the worst whiskey in the world.

Bodie’s decline began in 1880 when the previously very prosperous gold miners began to mine the increasingly less valuable metal. The last census in 1940 counted only 90 people. By 1950, no one lived in this town, which was soon officially called Ghost Town.

Pro Tip: If you like ghost towns, check out the book Ghost Towns of the West to find more inspirations!

Bodie Ghost Town

Bodie Ghost Town Today

The town of Bodie was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1961. In addition, Bodie State Historic Park was established in 1962 with 170 buildings from the Gold Rush era. Bodie was designated California’s official Gold Rush ghost town. It’s open to the public, and you can visit it.

visiting bodie ghost town

Is Bodie Worth Visiting?

Bodie State Historic Park is worth a visit if you are in this part of California. It is one of the best-preserved and most fascinating ghost towns in California.

In addition, there are far fewer tourists than in Calico Ghost Town , located on the popular route between Las Vegas and Los Angeles. So without a doubt, you have a chance to travel back in time in Bodie. Bodie should definitely be on your list if you like abandoned places without tourists. Shaniko Ghost Town in Oregon is also in a similar climate.

There aren’t many tourists here, but there aren’t too many attractions. The Calico mentioned above offers the whole family an engaging educational and cultural offer. In Bodie Ghost Town, you can concentrate only on the old buildings, their architecture, and their history. However, see also the chapter below with things to do in Bodie, as some activities like tours and workshops are available for tourists.

Bodie Ghost Town

Tips for Exploring Bodie State Historic Park

Driving directions to bodie state historic park.

The Bodie State Historic Park is northeast of Yosemite, 13 miles east of Highway 395 on Bodie Road, and seven miles south of Bridgeport. From U.S. 395, seven miles south of Bridgeport, take State Route 270. Go east 10 miles to the end of the pavement and continue 3 miles on an unsurfaced road to Bodie. The last 3 miles can, at times, be rough.

Bodie State Historic Park

Bodie State Historic Park Entrance Fee

There is a fee for entering and visiting the historic town of Bodie:

  • Adults: $8.00 per person
  • Children: $5.00 per child (ages 4 to 17)
  • Infant: Free (ages 0-3)
  • You can also purchase for $3.00 Self Guided Tour Book

Bodie Ghost Town Hours

Park is open from 9 am to 6 pm during the Summer months (mid-May to the end of October).

Bodie State Historic Park

Is Bodie Ghost Town Open in Winter?

Yes, you can visit Bodie during the winter months as well. The park is open from 9 am to 3 pm in the winter (Nov 1st – May 14th). But remember that roads at this elevation (8375 feet) are usually covered with snow and impassable in winter. The town is accessible only by skis, snowshoes, or snowmobiles during winter. Snowmobiles must remain on designated roads in the Bodie Hills. Below-freezing temperatures and high winds are typical in this area.

What is the Best Time to Visit Bodie?

The best times to visit the Bodie ghost town are late spring, summer, and fall. It can still be cold in March and April, and snow may still lie on the roads. Or the roads may be muddy after thaws. If you plan a summer visit, remember to take some water and protect yourself from the sun. Also, pack something warm in summer as the strong winds at this altitude are common. It is also worth packing a raincoat.

Pro Tip: Check the status on the official park website before your visit. Check SR 270 conditions on the Caltrans Road Information website or call 800-845-7922.

Bodie State Historic Park

Bodie Ghost Town Safty Rules

  • Follow all rules in the park. Do not enter closed buildings. Do not enter closed areas. Walk only in designated locations and paths, as many buildings risk collapsing.
  • Dogs on leashes are allowed in the park but not in any historic buildings, including the Stamp Mill or the Museum. Please clean up after your pet.
  • Nothing may be collected or removed from the park. All items must remain in their place. Do not touch them or remove them.
  • Using drones in Bodie State Historic Park is prohibited by law.
  • Also, metal detectors are not allowed.

Our Tip: If you are interested in gold rush times, please check out our article about Goldfield in Nevada , one of the area’s most important gold mining centers.

Bodie State Historic Park Facilities

There are no commercial facilities in Bodie, such as groceries or gasoline. So pack some snacks and water. Be sure to take all your trash with you. There is a bookstore in the museum where you can also inquire about daily tours . Restrooms (flush toilets) are located in the parking lot and picnic area. There is also limited cell service.   

Bodie State Historic Park

What to see in Bodie State Historic Park?

The buildings in Bodie Ghost Town are no longer in the best condition. Many are already badly damaged and in poor condition, so remember not to enter the forbidden places. But many of the buildings still look amazing and make a great impression. Be sure to also check out the cemetery just southeast of the main site. The most exciting places in Bodie that you can not miss are listed below.

J.S. Caine Residence

The finest house in the town of Bodie, with a glass porch, belonged to James Stuart Cain, who came to Bodie at the age of 25 and at first started a sawmill. In time, as he made some money supplying wood for railroad ties, he and his friend leased land from the mine. Within 90 days, they were mining $90,000 worth of gold at the time. The mine did not renew its lease, but Caine eventually became one of the largest landowners in the area. James Stuart’s Cain house is inhabited by a real ghost called The Woman in the Window. From the second-floor window, a translucent figure likes to stare at tourists walking through the city streets.

Methodist Church

It is one of the most photographed buildings in the town. And one of the few that can be entered and admired from the inside. In 1882 residents built the Methodist Church and the Roman Catholic Church, which burned about 1930.

Bodie State Historic Park

Boone Store & Warehouse

It was the largest General Store in Bodie, owned by Harvie Boone. It is also one of the most exciting places to take lovely photos, especially at the old gas station.

The Stamp Mill was the most profitable part of the mine. Here the whole process of processing the ore (gold and silver) supplied by the mine took place. It is best to visit this place with a guide to feel the special atmosphere of Bodie from its heyday. Guided tours take place only from the last day of May to the first week of September.

During the gold rush, there were more than a dozen bank buildings in Bodie. To date, only one brick safe has survived. Unfortunately, the wooden structure of the bank building has not withstood the test of time. It is worth noting that this is the only bank in town that has never been robbed.

Bodie Ghost Town

Things to Do in Bodie Ghost Town

In 2008, the Bodie Foundation was established by a small group of individuals committed to preserving Bodie. The Bodie Foundation is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to the preservation, interpretation, and public use of Bodie State Historic Park, Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve, and Grover Hot Springs State Park. The Foundation organizes a lot of activities in Bodie. Check out the list below and choose something that fits your interests. The Bodie Foundation also operates the Bodie Mercantile store in Bridgeport. You can get information about the park and purchase unique gifts and souvenirs there.

Bodie Photography Workshops

Consider a photography workshop if you want to take attractive, amazing photos with Bodie. You will have the opportunity to take great shots in the Wild West scenery.

Bodie State Historic Park

Bodie and Mono Lake Public & Private Tours

During the summer season, the Foundation also organizes guided tours . Please book them in advance. You can choose between different tours. The tours are offered from mid-May to mid-October.

Bodie Private Tours

You can book a two-hour private Bodie town tour. Another option is to enjoy the beautiful evening light during the Twilight Tours. This is excellent because you can visit the park after it closes, so there are no other tourists. During this tour, you will also see selected sights like the cemetery or the stamp mill. And if you have more time in the area, you can consider the Living at the Lake Tour. You will see the Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve during this tour.

Bodie Ghost Town

Bodie Public Tours

The Foundation also offers Daily Public Tours. Free History Talks are most days, at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Check details with Entrance Station or Museum. What’s more, there organized also Stamp Mill Tour. They are available most days at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. Visit Museum for tickets. The cost is $6 per person.

Bodie State Historic Park

Where to Stay When Visiting Bodie?

Camping near bodie.

There is no campground in the Bodie State Historic Park, nor is it possible to stay overnight. However, if you travel in a van or RV, you can stay in public lands as part of BLM. Check BLM maps of the area. Private RV campgrounds exist in both Lee Vining and Bridgeport and surrounding areas. There are also US Forest Campgrounds along the west side of 395, such as Lundy Canyon, Virginia Creek, and Lower Twin Lakes.

Hotels near Bodie

The closest town where you can stay for a night is Bridgeport. Below you will find the best deals. The best way to explore Bodie Ghost Town is to combine it with a visit to Mono Lake, Yosemite National Park , or Lake Tahoe .

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visiting bodie ghost town

Agnes Stabinska is a writer, photographer, and co-founder of The Van Escape. She loves wildlife, landscape photography, and outdoor adventures, especially hiking, camping, and exploring U.S. national parks. Although she has traveled to many countries for almost 20 years, her favorite places are Alaska, the American Southwest, and the Pacific Northwest, which she often visits and explore with her partner, Chris. Their travel tips, itineraries, and recommendations will help you get away from it all and plan a wonderful vacation.


I love all the different ghost towns you visited. The Bodie Ghost Town is another fun way to re-live the time of the California gold rush. Good to know it is an easy day trip from Lake Tahoe or Yosemite National Park. Amazing that there are 170 buildings in this outdoor museum. Fun that they have photography workshops here.

Wow! This is so interesting. Hard to believe that the town still had residents as late as the 1940s. Would love to check this out when I’m in the area. Thanks for sharing!

Visiting a ghost town is high on my bucket list. I always find it fascinating that a whole town virtually disappears. Since my husband and I love road trips, I will have to construct one to include this as well as Yosemite.

The thing that amazed me most about the town is the absolute silence, and seeing whats left of the old steam powered machinery, and how loud it must have been back in the day. It’s hard to explain, but the feeling of past weights heavy there. It’s also not far from Mammoth Mountain, We’ll be back.

You describe places in a way that inspires me to travel and see the world. Thank you very much for that! Greetings from Canada.

Wow! This is such a cool place. I cannot wait to visit. Thanks for providing your readers a really detailed visitors guide.

One of the absolute best ghost towns in the west! It’s a photographer’s dream location!

I’ve never visited a ghost town, but this looks like fun. I think visiting with a guide would be a great way to experience it.

When I was a kid we used to visit Mono Lake, and I remember being to a ghost town, so I wonder if I have been here! A new activity idea for the ghost town- The worst whiskey contest!

What a cool experience. We love visiting ghost towns and taking ghost tours. Thanks for adding another one to our list.

I love all the opportunities for photography here…abandoned cars, dilapidated buildings etc.

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Published on October 25, 2021

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An Unforgettable Wild-West Experience: Bodie Ghost Town

If you’re thinking of visiting Bodie Ghost Town, you are in for a treat! The town is one of the best-preserved, historic towns from the era of the wild, wild west. Whether you’re visiting nearby Mono Lake for a look at the tufa or exploring the world-famous Yosemite National Park, a day trip to Bodie State Historic Park is worth adding to your itinerary.

I visited Bodie as part of a paid partnership project with Globus Journeys . Globus offers a new type of group tour – Choice Touring – which has been designed to give participants the advantages of a group tour while still allowing for individual independence and flexibility. Our 9-day tour, California Dream’: Northern California by Design , started and ended in San Francisco. In between, we visited Sausalito, Sonoma, Sacramento, Lake Taho, Mammoth Lakes, and Yosemite National Park, with multiple days in some locations.

Map sign of Bodie, California ghost town.

It was a win all the way around as I had the chance to visit places that I might not have tackled on my own – I never seem to be organized enough to make National Park reservations far enough in advance. Globus took care of all the transportation, hotels, entrance fees, and luggage. After 33 years as a flight attendant, I can’t tell you how nice it is to have someone pick up and deliver my bags to my room as I head off to do my own thing.

So let’s learn more about the legendary ghost town of Bodie, California, and what remains of Bodie today.

The History of Bodie Ghost Town

Bodie was founded towards the end of the California Gold Rush in 1859, by S.W. Bodie, whom the town is named after. Bodie and his prospector friends had found gold, but sadly Bodie died in a blizzard that November and never got to see the wealth the town would eventually create. 

It wasn’t until 1876 that people started to notice Bodie, or should I say, notice its wealth in gold. By 1879, the population grew to somewhere between 7,000-10,000 people, all wanting to get a piece of that golden cookie. It’s said that the town of Bodie brought in over $100 million to Mono county, which in those days, was quite a pretty penny. It’s not too shabby by today’s standards either.

But as all good things come to an end, so did the popularity of Bodie. As mining opportunities started to pop up all over the States, the unmarried “get rich quick: miners started to leave the town for greener pastures. And like stones in an avalanche, once one rolls others will follow. 

By 1910, only 698 stubborn residents remained in Bodie. As more and more workers left, profits in gold decreased and the homes and businesses started to be abandoned. The Bodie Newspaper was the first to go, then the railway station, and then eventually everything else followed. The post office was closed in 1942. The once-thriving mining camp was on its way to becoming a deserted town.

In a futile effort to resurrect the town, in 1914 James S. Cain bought up everything, including the mines. However, too many workers had left and it was not enough to save Bodie. The once vibrant main street, general store, and dance halls went quiet, and Bodie’s population continued to dwindle. By 1915, the mining town was officially declared an abandoned ghost town. By 1946, there were only three residents left, one of whom was a caretaker hired by the Cain family to look after what remained of the town.

But it’s not all sad news for Bodie. It was recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 1961 and officially became Bodie State Historic Park , a part of the California State Park system.

Although many buildings have been lost over the years due to two great fires, vandalism, and generally battling against the high elevation and extreme weather, there are still 110 buildings left in Bodie. The town has been preserved in a state of arrested decay, which in simple terms, means that there is no attempt made to improve or rehabilitate the site, only steps taken to keep it from deteriorating further. California Department of Parks manages the site which now highlights abandoned buildings and deserted streets of a town that once thrived after the discovery of small amounts of gold.

Bodie has made many TV and movie appearances over the years, including the iconic Swing Out, Sweet Land documentary featuring John Wayne. Most notably though, is the movie Hell’s Heroes , a tale of three bandits as they outrun the law. This movie was filmed in 1930 before the second great fire, which is why most people can’t even tell that the set of that movie is actually Bodie.

Who is the “Bad Man” From Bodie?

Bodie was a rough-and-tumble kind of place. If you’ve watched a classic western movie, you’ll be familiar with saloon fights and brawls, gunfights, and gambling swindles. Robberies were common, and bandits roamed the surrounding hills. Main Street divided the good side of town from the bad, the affluent families from the opium dens and redlight district.

From this environment, emerged the references to the “bad man from Bodie.” Mark Twain referenced it. It appeared in newspapers and countless stories about the town. While a great deal of vagueness surrounds the individual so named, he was tagged with the brutal murder of a man called William P. Renowden. 

Some say the story is a myth , others say it’s true. We will let you decide.

The Bodie Curse

It is said that anyone who removes a piece of the town, either a rock, stone, piece of wood, etc., will suffer the wrath of the Bodie Curse.

Apparently, once a week, staff receive anonymous letters of apology with a return of items. So, if you believe in that kind of thing, remember to take only photographs and leave only footprints lest the curse of Bodie follow you. No one needs bad luck.

What You Will See at Bodie State Historic Park

What will you see in this genuine California gold-mining ghost town?

There’s plenty to discover. Take time to peer into the windows. The buildings look like residents went out the door one day and never returned. And that’s exactly what happened. It was usually too expensive to pack up the furniture and household goods when it was time to move on, so people walked out the door and left everything behind. At times it felt like I was wandering around a western movie set. Except this was real.

I’ve listed the best-preserved sights, in chronological order (oldest to newest), below.

  • D. V. Cain’s house. This was the house of the son of J.S. Cain and is one of the oldest and best-preserved houses in the town. (1873)
  • Bodie Jail. Built at a cost of just $800, the jail measures just 14 x 18 feet. It’s said that that only one prisoner has ever escaped. (1877)
  • Miners Union Hall (Museum). The hall was used as a place for local minors to congregate or hold parties and events. Today it is the town’s museum and houses artifacts that once belonged to residents of Bodie. You’ll find fancy dresses and accessories, a funeral coach, and all sorts of bits from everyday Bodie life. Allow plenty of time to look at all the displays; I found them fascinating. This stamp mill processed ore from the Standard Mine Check for availability. (1878)
  • The DeChambeau Hotel. This is one of the few brick buildings in Bodie and was first used as a post office, before becoming a hotel. After closing its doors as a hotel, it reopened as a bar and cafe. It is said to be one of the last businesses to operate in the town. (1879)
  • The Boone Store & Warehouse. The town’s grocery store. (1879)
  • The schoolhouse. Originally built as lodging, the schoolhouse is one of the better-looking structures in the park. The original building burnt down after a student accidentally started a fire. Or, maybe it wasn’t quite so accidental as the young boy was quite the rapscallion. (1879, rebuilt after a fire)
  • The Methodist Church. This is one of the first buildings you will see as you enter the park. (1882)
  • Lottie and Eli Johl’s House. The home of the well-to-do family that invested well in the mines, saloons, and other properties around town. After they left, their home became the post office. (1883. post office in 1932)
  • The Bodie Bank. The bank was owned by J.S. Cain, who ended up owning most of the town. The bank was severely damaged by the second great fire in 1932. (1890)
  • Horace Swasey’s Hotel. This incredible structure (incredible because it’s still standing) was once a casino and hotel. (1894)
  • The fire station. As you can imagine in a town with primarily wooden buildings, fires happen. There used to be four fire stations in Bodie but now there is only one remaining. (Rebuilt in the 1930s)
  • Standard Mill. The mill is one of the first in the town. Due to its age, the mill is not safe for visitors to explore on their own – you must book a tour to see it. Check on availability and book a tour from the Museum.
  • Hoover House. Theodore Hoover, brother of President Herbert Hoover, lived in Bodie for three years with his wife. During his time in Bodie, he managed the Standard Mill but was soon offered a job elsewhere.
  • J. S. Cain House. J.S. Cain moved to Bodie when he was 25 years old and became one of the richest and most influential members of the Bodie community. No trip to Bodie would be complete without taking a stop by his modest lodgings.

A black funeral stagecoach found at the Bodie museum

How to Get to Bodie

Full credit to Globus for my trip to Bodie as it was one of the choices I made on our itinerary. I had never heard of Bodie before the trip, but the combination of gold mines, mining companies, a national historic site, and a genuine gold-mining ghost town had me enthusiastic. I could have navigated to Bodie on my own, but I’m glad I didn’t have to with all the narrow roads through the Bodie hills. Not my idea of a fun drive when I can be enjoying the scenery instead.

To get to Bodie, follow US Route 395. Just south of Bridgeport, turn onto California State Route 270. This is the main route to Bodie State Historic Park. SR 270 is mostly paved, but the last three miles are on a dusty unsurfaced road. Drive slowly and carefully.

Tips for Visiting Bodie State Historic Park

Whether you’re on an organized tour or visiting on your own, there are practical things to keep in mind when visiting Bodie. On a tour, you may have some backup but “be prepared” is still solid advice.

An abandoned car at Bodie State Historical Park

You may not have phone service en route to Bodie. I found that I had it about half the time, and the bus wi-fi wasn’t always able to connect. Download maps for use offline, or pick up one of those old-fashioned paper ones, to complement existing signage.

You can wander Bodie on your own or join a ranger-led tour. Three hours is what I’d suggest to explore the park, take a peek into some of the buildings, and spend some time browsing in the museum.

Wear strong UV-protective sunscreen and bring water. The town lacks a lot of shade and can be very hot during the summer months. I visited in mid-late September and it was quite warm. I had lots of water, thank goodness, and I’d recommend stocking up on extra to bring along.

There is a small picnic area if you want to bring along your own food. There are no restaurants or food vending on site.

Wear appropriate footwear. The ground is very dry, dusty, and sometimes rocky, so sturdy shoes will let you comfortably explore more of the area.

Dogs are permitted if on a leash.

FAQs about Bodie Ghost Town

Is it safe to visit the Ghost Town of Bodie?

As far as bandits and thieves go, they are long gone, and Bodie is no longer a lawless town. Bodie is safe to visit, but visitors must take precautions against the weather. Located at 8,379 feet above sea level on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains, Bodie can be extremely hot and dry during the day. The terrain is uneven and bumpy, so use care when exploring.

Does anyone live in Bodie State Historic Park?

There are only a handful of residents that live in or nearby the Bodie Ghost Town, including resident state park rangers. There is no lodging available in Bodie, but it’s an easy day trip from nearby Mammoth Lakes .

Are there ghosts in Bodie?

The term ghost town refers to a desert town with no or few remaining residents. However, it’s claimed that at least one ghost walks the streets of Bodie. Paranormalists say haunted locations include the John S. Cain House, the cemetery, and the mine where the occasional ghost has been detected.

What are the Opening Hours and Admission Fees for Bodie State Historic Park?

Bodie is open seasonally. Summer hours are 9 am – 6 pm. At the time of writing, admission is $8 for adults, $5 for children, free for infants. A self-guided tour book is $3.

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Bodie CA: An ‘Arrested Decay’ Ghost Town Gives Kids a Real Look at History

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Silvana Clark

Bodie CA ghost town

If you’re looking to step into history and explore a gold-mining ghost town, head to Bodie CA. This isn’t a cute living history museum with quilts and lace on display. You won’t be dressing up in costumes like at the Baker Heritage Museum in Oregon. Instead, you’ll wander through an entire town of structures frozen in time since the Gold Rush.

The California State Parks Department keeps Bodie State Historic Park in a state of “arrested decay.” Buildings are not restored, yet also not allowed to disintegrate. The idea is to do just enough maintenance so the buildings don’t collapse. That’s why you’ll see buildings with new-looking shake or corrugated metal roofs.

Read More: 22 Best Things to Do in Cody Wyoming

Where is Bodie CA?

It’s safe to say that going to Bodie will require some patience and a sense of adventure. Located over an hour from Yosemite National Park and roughly 3 hours from Mariposa , a popular area for Yosemite visitors to stay in – Bodie is remote. Its location near the border of Nevada puts it closer to Reno (2.5 hours) than Sacramento (4.25 hours). Tahoe-area visitors can reach Bodie in about 2.5 hours.

History of Bodie CA

The town was founded in 1859 by William “Waterman” S. Bodey, who discovered gold near what is now called Bodie Bluff. A mill was established in 1861 and the town began to grow.

By 1880, Bodie was home to an estimated 10,000 people including families, miners and store owners as well as robbers, gunfighters and prostitutes. The town had a red-light district that included brothels, gambling halls and opium dens.

As the miners found less and less gold, they headed on in search of more profitable mining camps and left behind most of their possessions.

Read More: Things to Do in Ghost Town Jerome AZ

old looking buildings are scattered in a valley with blue skies and hills in the background in Bodie CA ghost town

Bodie is Bigger Than Expected

As you round the corner and see Bodie’s entrance, the size of the ghost town is surprising. I was expecting a few ramshackle houses and barns. Not here!

Bodie consists of more than 100 buildings spread over a hillside. What is left of the town is only a small percentage of the former 2,000 buildings. There’s a bank, church, barber shop, saloons, school, pharmacy and all the other buildings that make up a community.

Helping Kids Enjoy Bodie

Let’s face it…most kids will look at two or three “old” buildings and declare, “I’m done.”

I’d suggest buying the $3 Bodie brochure, which explains the history of Bodie along with a map highlighting key structures.

I watched parents with two elementary-aged kids keep their kids thoroughly engaged. Using their Bodie brochure, they had the kids take turns finding a building on the map and reading the description as the family peered through doors and windows. They stayed over an hour, as kids looked with interest at the artifacts.

While peeking into the one-room schoolhouse, their dad asked, “What are some things in this classroom that are different from your class? What things are similar?” I watched as the kids took time to study the room in order to answer their dad’s questions.

a woman stands in a doorway with no building around it in the ghost town of bodie ca

How Did Bodie Become a Ghost Town?

Bodie, one of about  3,800 ghost towns in the United States , is a history lover’s dream. The California gold rush turned Bodie into a boom town with 2,000 buildings.

At its peak between 1879 and 1881, Main Street was a mile long. That included 60 salons and dance halls, leading to many gunfights among the patrons. A local pastor, the Reverend Warrington said, “Bodie is a sea of sin lashed by the tempests of lust and passion.” (No need to share that quote with your kids!)

The Standard Mining Company in Bodie, produced more than $18 million in gold and silver after discovering a large vein of gold ore. The mine continued successfully mining for 25 years. After that, as the mine produced less and less gold, the prospectors followed the Gold Rush in search of more profitable mining camps.

They left behind most of their belongings. That’s why Bodie is such an accurate representation of life during the Gold Rush. By 1915, Bodie became an official ghost town. In 1962, Bodie was established as Bodie State Historic Park. The  Bodie Foundation  helps maintain the structures.

a man stands arms crossed in front of a dilapidated wooden building that is leaning in bodie ca

What Will I See in Bodie CA Besides Old Buildings?

As you look inside each building you see the remnants of life that was. Let your imagination flow while you see a miner’s living room with a cast iron stove now covered with pieces of ceiling insulation. Some family used to sit at that table which today has crumbling legs and remnants of a bird’s nest on top. A faded calendar hangs on the wall next to a broken lamp barely clinging to the ceiling.

You’ll see empty pickle barrels and cans of beans still on display from when the general store did a booming business. The mortuary still has caskets inside. There’s a pool table inside another building.

Strolling through Bodie gives you a snapshot into the past. We found the remnants of the Wells Fargo bank with its crumbling walls. The safe was completely intact, though. Obviously, they needed a secure safe to hold all that gold!

Even with the Wild West mentality of living in Bodie, the residents built two churches. While the Catholic church burned in 1930, the Methodist church still stands for you to see.

In between buildings, we saw discarded trucks and wagons scattered throughout the town.

Unfortunately, the stamp mill of The Standard Consolidated Mining Company has been deemed unsafe and visitors may no longer enter except as part of a guided tour.

Speaking of tours, Friends of Bodie runs several. Be sure to check the event calendar to see what might be happening during the time you’ll be there.

SheBuysTravel Tip:  Watch where you’re walking. It’s easy to trip over the many leftover pieces of mining equipment and ordinary household items.

Is the Ghost Town of Bodie Cursed?

With all the artifacts strewn around the ghost town, tourists started taking a part of Bodie home with them. This resulted in the loss of many precious artifacts. Thus began the “Bodie Curse.”

Legend has it that if you take even a tiny shard of broken glass, a nail or other remnant of mining life, bad luck will follow. Yes…take a piece of scrap metal and your life will take a turn for the worse, accompanied by nightmares.

(Don’t tell anyone, but that is a rumor started by California State Park staff to discourage visitors from taking mementos home. It seems to work because theft of items has dropped significantly.)

Tips for Visiting the Bodie Historic Site

  • Bodie is BYO.  This is an actual ghost town minus a fancy gift shop and nearby latte stand. You won’t even find a vending machine, so bring plenty of water and snacks.
  • Wear comfortable closed-toe shoes. Paths are bumpy and strewn with discarded metal pieces, so leave the flip-flops behind.
  • It’s not stroller-friendly. Unless you have a tough stroller ready to take on the Baha, this is a place for baby-wearing .
  • Use the facilities before you walk into the ghost town.  There’s a modern restroom in the parking lot before starting your ghost town exploration.
  • Lather up with sunscreen . And wear a hat. Remember, you’re in the desert!

SheBuysTravel Tip: Bodie is “technically” open all year. However, because of the high elevation (8,375 feet), it is accessible only by skis, snowshoes or snowmobiles during winter months. In addition, Highway 395 is blocked off by a gate during impassable and snowy months.

Getting To Bodie CA

Visiting Bodie isn’t just a quick stop on a California road trip. Getting there takes some effort. The ghost town is located in a remote area in the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountain range, close to Bridgeport, June Lake and  Yosemite National Park . It’s in Mono County, about an hour north of Mono Lake on Highway 395. The last 13 miles to Bodie on California 270 is a bumpy but drivable road.

However, and this is a big however, the last three miles consist of a dirt road with washboards. While we admire physically fit people with sculpted washboards on their chests, these washboards make driving extremely difficult. We drove our RV and actually had two screws come loose and several drawers pop open from the jostling and bumping.

I was told the California State Park department doesn’t pave the last three miles to keep the authentic atmosphere of traveling back in time.

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The History and Geology of the Bodie Ghost Town

Preserved in a state of “arrested decay”, visitors to Bodie are able to explore the turn of the century remains of one of California's most lucrative mining districts.

Bodie State Historic Park, located only 48 miles north of Mammoth Lakes in the heart of Mono County, California, is undoubtedly one of the most legendary ghost towns in the Western U.S. Preserved in a state of “arrested decay”, visitors to Bodie are able to explore the turn of the century remains of one of California's most lucrative mining districts.

Bodie Ghost Town

The history of Bodie is vibrant and colorful and the town's legacy as a Wild West icon is everlasting. With a diverse population numbering close to 10,000 at the town's peak in 1880, industrious miners and successful businessman rubbed shoulders with notorious gunfighters and nefarious gamblers. From the tales of the initial discoverer, whose life ended tragically, to the development of electrically powered gold mines and vicious gunfights, the story of Bodie is sure to interest all members of your group or family.

A Brief History of Bodie

The birth of the town of Bodie began in summer of 1859, with four adventurous prospectors wandering the Eastern Sierra foothills in the search of mineral wealth. Arriving from the western slopes via Sonora Pass, the group began exploring the canyons and hills north of Mono Lake. About 10 miles from Monoville, the group discovered a promising placer (stream bed) showing of gold within a meadow surrounded by rolling hills of sagebrush. The men felt confident in their placer prospects and they immediately built a small cabin next to Pearson Spring, which is on the outskirts of the ghost town near the old cemetery. With winter approaching, the miners decided to spend the cold months in the nearby mining camp of Monoville and return to the mining claim in the spring.

The news of discovery did not reach far and the deposit was almost forgotten. At this time, the massive mines of the Comstock Lode in Virginia City to the north were in full production and the gold mines of Aurora to the east were rapidly developing, keeping thousands of miners employed. As these deposits were exhausted, miners began emigrating into the Bodie Hills and the region rapidly exploded.

In 1876, Bodie had only a few dozen residents. By 1879 and 1880, the town grew to an estimated population of around 10,000 people as the mining industry quickly expanded. This rapid growth brought an incredibly diverse population, which comprised a broad spectrum of culture, ethnicity, and notability, into the Bodie Hills. As the people came in, the town began to evolve and several prominent neighborhoods became established.

To the east of town, the mighty mines and mills pumped economic lifeblood into the town. In the center and south of town, a vibrant business district blossomed, flanked to the west by the well-kept homes of mine management and business owners The northern end of town came to life in the evenings, as the dozens of saloons, gambling halls, taverns, brothels, and opium dens of the Red Light District and Chinatown beckoned miners with their expensive vices. Bodie quickly gained the reputation as a “shooters town” due to the Wild West-style gunfights that often erupted during the height of the town's prominence.

In 1881, the Bodie and Benton Railroad was formed and although the 32-mile rail line never connected the towns of Bodie and Benton as intended, it did provide much-needed lumber to the mines from Mono Mills on the south side of Mono Lake. The availability of lumber, which was necessary for building construction, mine support, and fuel, was a major issue for the residents Bodie and until the railway was completed, continuous 20-head mule teams hauled lumber from the forests to the west and south.

At its peak between 1879 and 1881, Bodie's main street reached over a mile in length. During this time, Bodie had 2 churches (Catholic and Methodist), at least 2 newspapers, a telegraph station, post office, 22 operating mines, many large (and very noisy) stamp-style ore mills, multiple motels, several general stores and mercantiles, stables, doctors and pharmacists, union halls, schools, breweries, and several dozen saloons. Although it is difficult to accurately gauge the size of the town due to the transient nature of the region's population in the 1870's and 1880's, Bodie was likely the 6th or 7th largest city in California at this time.

Aside from the vast mineral wealth and the rough and tumble reputation of the town, Bodie's next claim to fame is the installation and operation of the world's first long-distance electrical transmission network. In 1892, the Superintendent of Bodie's Standard Mine began designing an electrical system to replace the facility's expensive and laborious steam plant. After locating a suitable site for a hydroelectric station on Green Creek near Bridgeport, 12.5 miles of suspended power lines were strung linking the 3300-volt hydroelectric station to the mine. At this time, electrical transmission over such a great distance was unheard of and many of the mine's investors were skeptical of the undertaking. Once the lights turned on and the machinery began turning on electrical power, the skeptics were turned to believers and industry was revolutionized at a global scale.

A kitchen fire in the summer of 1892 destroyed much of town to the west of main street. The town was rebuilt, although the damage was done and several of the residents left. Tragedy struck Bodie again in the early summer of 1932 when most of the town burnt to the ground. This fire, which was accidentally started by a young boy playing with matches, sealed the fate of the once glorious mining town.

After major mining ended in 1915 and small-scale mining efforts halted in the early 1950's, the remaining buildings slowly began to decay as residents left or passed on. Due to the town's remarkable ghost town-like remains and the value of the minerals mined from the surrounding hills, the town received National Landmark Status in 1961. California adopted the Bodie State Historic Park in 1962 and it remains today preserved and maintained by the Bodie Foundation.

The Story of W.S. Bodey

The most ambitious of the four original prospectors was a former New Yorker by the name W.S. Bodey (“W” likely stood for Wakeman, not William). In the middle of the 19th century, Bodey sailed around the horn of South America to California's goldfields. After several meager years, Bodey and a team of three other prospectors decided to try their luck in the foothills of the Eastern Sierra, where they discovered gold near Mono Lake. Bodey is actually credited with initially discovering the gold in the stream bed in 1859, hence the town's name (whose spelling was later changed from Bodey to Bodie by a mistaken sign painter).

Bodey's story, as is the case with many of the West's famous prospectors, does not end well. At the opposition of the other two partners, Bodey and another prospector by the name of Black Taylor decided to stay in the cabin over winter in order to work the deposit. Unprepared for the harsh winters, the two ran out of supplies by November and were forced to make the 10 mile trip to the nearby mining camp of Monoville. On the return trip, a fierce blizzard caused the two to become lost and Bodey was unable to reach the cabin before succumbing to the winter storm.

In the following spring, Taylor was able to find and bury the remains of Bodey near the location of his death. Almost 20 years later, residents of the now booming town of Bodie found the unmarked gravesite and moved the remains to the town's cemetery, where the bones of W.S. Bodey reside today.

Geology: Responsible for Bodie's Existence

Bodie owes its existence to the area's unique, and valuable, geology. Similar to Nevada mining districts to the east, Bodie's precious metal deposits formed around 10 million years ago. Due to widespread tectonic extensional (or pulling apart) forces acting on the earth's crust of eastern California and western Nevada, molten rock and superheated water reached the surface through conduits as explosive volcanoes or hot springs. These hydrothermal fluids contained gold and silver and when these fluids cooled, the metals precipitated within the surrounding igneous rock. Geologists use the term epithermal mineralization to describe this near-surface emplacement of economic metals.

Aside from the early placer workings, Bodie's wealth was generated by hard-rock mining. Hard-rock mining refers to the process of breaking apart solid rock, or ore, to extract the precious metals or minerals locked within. To do this, miners must blast and mine into the rock in the search of valuable veins. In the case of Bodie, most (90%) of the gold and silver recovered was locked deep within quartz veins. These milky-white quartz veins, from inches in width to 20 ft. in average width at the Standard Mine, often contained a variety of economically important minerals; including pyroaurite, tetrahedrite, pyrite, stephanite, native gold, and native silver.

Beneath the town of Bodie, it is estimated that miners excavated 100's of miles of tunnels in the search for valuable ore. These tunnels were accessed by vertical mine shafts, which had steam driven elevators to transport ore to the surface and miners to the workings. Experienced miners from the declining Virginia City and Aurora districts brought knowledge and efficiency to the Bodie District, making the workings more profitable for the owners of the mines.

The district was incredibly lucrative and many investors reaped the rewards from mining stock and dividends. In 1888, California State's official Mineralogist reported that the district had produced over $18 million in precious metals, which is just under half a billion dollars today (adjusted for inflation).

Bodie Today

Today, over 100 of the original buildings line the dirt streets of the Bodie ghost town; including the old Miners Union building, firehouse, jail, the massive Standard Mill, school house, Methodist Church, morgue, and several small homes. Overlooking the dusty roads of the once thriving Bodie, these buildings preserve the Wild West way of life, with many remaining as they were originally found over 60 years ago. The Miners Union building is now a museum, which showcases artifacts from Bodie's past, and the Standard Mill has been partially restored. Daily tours of the relatively complete stamp mill facility are available throughout the summer for the nominal fee of $6.

One of the most popular attractions among visitors is the Bodie Cemetery, located at the end of a short footpath on the outskirts of town. Bodie was and still is known for having two cemeteries; one within the ornate cemetery fence and one outside of the fence, known as the informal Boot Hill cemetery. The plots inside of the cemetery fence were reserved as resting places for the respectable citizens of the town. The unmarked Boot Hill outcast cemetery was for the unsavory and derelict characters of Bodie, which were many in the town's heyday.

The Bodie State Historic Park is an authentic and easily accessible desert ghost town made famous by vast mineral riches and late 19th-century western lawlessness. Over 200,000 visitors explore the town site annually and for additional information on the Bodie ghost town, consult the websites and resources listed below.

Getting There

Leave Mammoth Lakes on California State Route 203 south and turn left after the overpass onto Highway 395 north. Drive for approximately 35 miles, passing through the small town of Lee Vining. Turn right on State Route 270 and travel east 10 miles to the end of the pavement.

For the remaining 3 miles, the road surface is dirt and travel may be slow. For current road conditions, call Bodie State Historic Park at 760-647-6445 or visit

Tips and Advice for Visiting Bodie

Bodie State Historic Park has limited resources. Flushable toilets are available near the parking lot. There are no concessions, although there are several areas around the park to enjoy a picnic lunch. Camping is not allowed within or near the park.

The ghost town is located above 8,000 feet in elevation, so visitors should be prepared for all types of weather. Sunscreen, sunglasses, sturdy shoes and a jacket are recommended.

The park entrance fee is $5 for adults and $3 for a child (age 1-17). Cash or check are the only accepted forms of payment. Summer hours: 9:00am - 6:00pm (March 18 to October 31st).

Inquire about tours inside of the Miner's Union Hall, which is now a museum. Daily tours of the Standard stamp mill leave at 11:00 am and 3:00pm at a cost of $6 per person.

Bodie Resources

The official California State Park website for Bodie: Mammoth Lakes Tourism Bodie webpage: Additional websites on Bodie history:


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Bodie Ghost Town

If you do an online search for “Bodie Ghost Town”, you’ll likely find a lot of information about the more famous ghost town of Bodie in Mono County California. But did you know that Washington State also has a Bodie ghost town?

The Bodie ghost town in Washington is located on the east banks of Toroda Creek, 12 miles north of Wauconda in the far northeast corner of Okanogan County.  If you’re a history geek, mining buff, or photographer, the particularly photogenic Bodie is well worth the long trek over to the Okanogan Highlands, especially during winter or fall.

visiting bodie ghost town

In 1884, prospector Henry DeWitz established a cabin in the boomtown of Toroda, located a few miles south of the current Bodie ghost town. When the Colville Reservation officially opened mining in the late 1890s, Henry quickly staked out claims. Though historical stories disagree, some say that Henry sold one of his mining claims to his brother Ben, who subsequently struck gold. 

In 1897, Toroda, which contained a general store, restaurant, livery barn, blacksmith shop, and several homes, was relocated about four miles north near the gold mines and renamed Bodie, where the existing site remains today.  

visiting bodie ghost town

In 1902, the Bodie gold mine was sold to the Wrigley brothers for $80,000. Yes, the very same brothers of chewing gum and baseball fame. It’s said that Henry DeWitz was the profiting brother, but that isn’t without some mystery. The Wrigleys established the Bodie Mining Company and expanded development with a steam-powered ten-stamp reduction mill built under the leadership of Charles M. Fassett of Spokane. They operated the mine until 1911.

Several companies leased or purchased the Bodie Mine between 1916 and 1922 but no production occurred due to war conditions and declining gold values. In 1934 amidst rising gold prices, the mine was again reopened under the ownership of Northern Gold Corporation. The mill was rebuilt in 1935 and throughput increased to 70 tons per day. Northern’s operations employed as many as 40 miners and mill men who worked three shifts per day.

visiting bodie ghost town

Mining again ceased in 1941 when the War Production Board issued a government order closing non-essential industries during World War II. In 1970, Bodie’s five patented claims were purchased by the Geo-Mineral Exploration Company, who still owns the claims today.

A fire in 1962 destroyed much of the working mine’s infrastructure and mill but many structures from the deserted town remain along both the west and east sides of Toroda Creek Road. The rest of the Bodie property is private and marked as such. Entry or visitation of the mines is prohibited without permission. 

Between 1903 and 1940, the Bodie mine produced an estimated $1,300,000 in gold. 

It’s hard not to spend several hours at Bodie wondering what it must have been like during the gold rush of the late 1800s. Who walked through those doors? Who looked through those windows? It’s the kind of place that’ll transport you back in time and if you listen quietly you can almost hear the ghosts of its history.

visiting bodie ghost town

Visiting Bodie.

From the town of Wauconda on Highway 20, Bodie is located about 12 miles north on Toroda Creek Road, approximately 17 miles south of the Canadian border.

Don’t let the long drive deter you, the area is full of recreation and history. The beautiful Kettle River Mountains are nearby and Mount Bonaparte Lookout and Bonaparte Lake offer opportunities for hiking, fishing, hunting, and cross country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter. The Bonaparte Lake Resort is a fantastic local spot offering accommodations and delicious food, especially their pie!

The small friendly town of Republic to the south has restaurants, accommodations, and a brew pub as well as interesting history and nearby Sherman Pass offers up more recreation.

A trip to Bodie can also easily be combined with stops at other Okanogan ghost towns like Molson, Nighthawk, and Chesaw.


Is Bodie CA worth visiting?


Yes, Bodie CA is definitely worth visiting. This ghost town offers a fascinating glimpse into the Gold Rush era and provides a unique historical experience.

How much does it cost to go to Bodie ghost town?

To visit Bodie ghost town, an entrance fee applies to all visitors. The fee is $8 for adults and $5 for children under 18.

Can you go in the buildings in Bodie?

While you cannot enter the buildings in Bodie, you can peek in the windows of various structures like the church, schoolhouse, barbershop, and saloon. This allows you to see relics and artifacts that remain inside.

What is Bodie famous for?

Bodie is famous for being a genuine California gold-mining ghost town. It offers visitors the opportunity to walk through deserted streets and explore a town that once had around 2,000 structures and a population of roughly 8,000 people.

Is Bodie ghost town free?

No, there is an entrance fee to visit Bodie ghost town. The fee is $8 for adults and $5 for children 18 and under. Children 3 and under can enter for free.

Why is Bodie California abandoned?

Bodie’s slow decline began in 1879 and continued with a series of booms and busts. The depletion of mineable materials and people leaving the area led to the abandonment of Bodie. By 1886, the population had fallen to approximately 1,500 residents.

Does anyone still live in Bodie California?

No, Bodie is now an authentic Wild West ghost town. The last resident, Martin Gianettoni, left in 1943. Bodie is now a State Historic Park and a National Historic Landmark.

Can you stay in Bodie?

There are no accommodations available within Bodie itself. However, there are several affordable vacation homes and condos in nearby towns like Gull Lake and June Lake, which are in close proximity to Bodie.

What are some fun facts about Bodie CA?

– Bodie was discovered in 1859 by William S. Bodey. – At its peak in 1880, Bodie had approximately 10,000 residents. – Bodie had a reputation for being a rough and lawless town with 65 saloons, gambling, and prostitution. – Bodie experienced a devastating fire in 1892 and another large fire in 1932, which destroyed half the town. – Bodie became a State Historic Park in 1962 and a National Historic Landmark.

Who owns Bodie California?

Bodie State Historic Park is owned by the state of California. It was purchased in 1962 to preserve its unique history. Less than 10% of Bodie’s original buildings still remain.

What is unusual about the Bodie Hills?

The Bodie Hills are unique because they are one of the last strongholds for the Bi-state Sage Grouse, which is a Distinct Population Segment of sage grouse found in only a few counties along the California-Nevada border.

What happened in Bodie California?

Bodie experienced a series of booms and busts due to mining activity. The town suffered from devastating fires in 1892 and 1932, leading to its decline and eventual abandonment.

Is the road to Bodie paved?

Most of the road to Bodie is paved, but the final three miles leading to the town are unpaved dirt roads. The road can be accessed via State Highway 270, which connects to US Highway 395.

How long does it take to go through the ghost town Museum?

It takes about 45 minutes to an hour to go through the Bodie Museum. The museum offers a self-guided tour, but the majority of the buildings are closed to protect visitors.

What is the coldest ghost town in California?

Bodie State Historic Park is considered one of the coldest places in California due to its high elevation and harsh winters. This well-preserved ghost town offers a unique experience in a cold and rugged environment.

What happened to Bodie town?

Bodie experienced a decline in population after the depletion of mineable materials and a series of fires. The town was eventually abandoned and turned into a State Historic Park in 1962 to preserve its remaining structures.

Is the road to Bodie open yet?

Yes, as of July 2023, the road to Bodie State Historic Park has reopened. Visitors can access the town via State Highway 270, which connects to US Highway 395.

How many buildings are in Bodie California?

Approximately 100 structures are still standing in Bodie California. These structures range from small out-houses to the giant Standard Mill. Most of the buildings are closed to the public, but they can be observed from the outside.

How many saloons were in Bodie California?

During its peak, Bodie had as many as 65 saloons. This reflects the town’s reputation for being a rough and lawless place, where gambling and prostitution were common forms of entertainment.

Is Bodie in the desert?

Yes, Bodie is located in the Basin Range of the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains. The surrounding landscape is characterized by its dry desert climate, which contributes to the well-preserved state of the ghost town.

What is the biggest ghost town in America?

Jerome, Arizona, is considered one of the largest ghost towns in America. This former mining town has been designated as a National Historic District and attracts visitors with its well-preserved relics from the past.

How many ghost towns are there?

Geotab has identified and mapped over 3,800 ghost towns in the United States. These ghost towns represent remnants of the past and offer unique historical and cultural experiences for visitors.

What state has the most ghost towns?

According to Geotab, Texas has the most ghost towns of any state, with over

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Mapped: Arkansas' ghost towns

Posted: January 2, 2024 | Last updated: January 2, 2024

There are thousands of abandoned "ghost" towns across the U.S., and while many are no more than memories , a few hundred still have free-standing structures or museums to visit.

Why it matters: Many of these places are disappearing with time and being absorbed into newer towns or by nature.

  • Bodie, California , is an abandoned gold-mining town turned state historic park. Visitors can see the old church, mining museum and over 100 original buildings.
  • Capitol City, Colorado , is a remote town near Telluride created in the hopes of becoming the state capital. Now, all that is left is a post office.

Between the lines: Geotab has mapped 3,800+ of these places, but the data is not conclusive.

  • In Kansas alone, there were once estimated to be thousands of mostly undiscovered ghost towns.
  • The map above shows locations of ghost towns confirmed to have at least some sort of building ruins.

Zoom in: The only site listed in Arkansas is the former town of Rush near the Buffalo National River.

  • Yes, but: One might not count Granny Henderson's cabin , also on the Buffalo, but it should be on your list of places to visit .
  • Notably missing is Dogpatch USA near Harrison; however, it's technically an abandoned amusement park and is roped off as private property.
  • Wikipedia lists several sites in the Natural State as ghost towns, including Monte Ne , the former berg now covered by Beaver Lake.

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  1. 11 Best Things To See In Bodie Ghost Town

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  2. How to Visit Brodie, California's Most Authentic Ghost Town

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  3. Bodie, California: The Best Ghost Town in the West

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  4. Bodie Ghost Town: A Historic Mining Town Frozen In Time

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  5. Bodie Ghost Town: A Historic Mining Town Frozen In Time

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  6. Bodie ghost town: a fascinating glimpse into California's gold rush era

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  6. Bodie: The Ghost Town Frozen in Time


  1. Bodie SHP

    Bodie is a ghost town. Today it looks much the same as it did over 50 years ago when the last residents left. To preserve the ghost town atmosphere, there are no commercial facilities at Bodie, such as food or gasoline. There is a bookstore inside the museum where you may also inquire about daily tours.

  2. Visiting Bodie California Ghost Town: Everything You Need to Know

    Erin • 8 July 2022 • 20 This page contains affiliate links. Please read our disclosure for more info. Bodie California Ghost Town is a gold mining Wild West town that is frozen fascinatingly in time. It is a 45-minute drive from the small town of Lee Vining and northeast of Yosemite National Park.

  3. Bodie

    Ghost Town of the Wild West Visiting Bodie is the most authentic way to see the real-life setting of the California gold rush. From 1877 to 1882, Bodie was a bustling town with close to 8,000 residents and produced more than $38 million in gold and silver.

  4. How to Visit Bodie, California's Most Authentic Ghost Town

    Welcome to Bodie, California's most authentic ghost town! Located in the hills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, not too far from the incredible Mono Lake, Bodie is a beautiful reminder of the Wild West. But what you see today is a mere shadow of what was once a thriving gold-mining town in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, in Mono County.

  5. Bodie State Historic Park

    Jun 2021. Bodie is a California gold-mining ghost town that is remarkably in good condition, given its age. The outside of most buildings given the impression that the town is still alive. But when you peer through the windows, you'll see decay—disintegrating wallpaper, falling ceiling tiles, aged furniture, and so on.


    Bodie, California is a town frozen in time, and preserved by California State Parks in a state of "arrested decay."

  7. Bodie Ghost Town

    Bodie Ghost Town See all things to do Bodie Ghost Town 4.5 22 reviews #1 of 5 things to do in Okanogan Ghost Towns Write a review What people are saying " Hidden gem " Nov 2022 Just make sure ti bring walking shoes and plenty of water. Suggest edits to improve what we show. Improve this listing Full view All photos (23)

  8. California's Bodie Ghost Town: A Guide to the Relics and Wreckage

    The Bodie ghost town is a remarkable open air museum and a perfect representation of California's boom and bust gold rush. This guide to Bodie State Park will give you some history on the town (and its unsavory reputation), answer your questions about how to visit, and give you plenty of eye candy that will make you want to go now.

  9. Bodie, California: Must-Read Tips for Visiting the Ghost Town

    By Kalyn / February 6, 2023 Bodie, California: today, one of the most famous ghost towns in the US, but back in the day, one of the most active boomtowns in the American West.

  10. Bodie Ghost Town: A Guide to California's Famous Ghost Town

    Bodie Ghost Town: Everything to Know About Visiting California's Most Famous Ghost Town TL;DR: We loved visiting Bodie Ghost Town to learn about gold rush history in an eerie, old, "cursed" town. This abandoned mining town of over 200 preserved buildings in Mono County is situated along an unpaved road that sometimes closes in winter.

  11. 11 Best Things To See In Bodie Ghost Town

    The ghost town of Bodie is by far the best California ghost town and one of the top in the entire United States. Bodie is about 2 hours north of Mammoth Lakes off Highway 395 or about 4 hours from the valley of Yosemite National Park. And it is also 1.75 hours north of Mono Lake. You will pass Mono Lake if you are coming from Mammoth Lakes.

  12. Bodie ghost town: a fascinating glimpse into California's gold rush era

    Here are a few IMPORTANT things to remember while planning your visit to Bodie ghost town: WHERE TO STAY NEAR BODIE. The closest town near Bodie state park is Bridgeport on highway 395, 24 miles west of Bodie. I highly recommend staying at Walker River Lodge in Bridgeport (right on Main street, the one street that runs through this tiny town).

  13. Day Trip to Bodie Ghost Town from Mammoth

    The most popular time to visit Bodie Ghost Town is in the summer, from late May until the beginning of September. Keep in mind this will likely be the busiest time in the park, which can detract from the creepy factor (if you are into that, like I am).

  14. Bodie Ghost Town California: how to get there and what to do

    Bodie's Mine. Visiting Bodie is definitely the most impressive experience of the Old West. In some cases, you can even enter and walk around the houses, venture into the rooms among the furniture and utensils of the time. So this is not a reconstruction, but a real town (a ghost town!) that is a valuable historical testimony to the legendary ...

  15. Visiting the Wild West Ghost Town of Bodie, California

    If you are thinking of visiting the Bodie, California ghost town, it is an easy day trip from Mammoth Lakes on the Scenic Highway 395 North and from Yosemite on Highway 120. The lonely 13-mile stretch of dirt road to Bodie clings to the edge of the dreary desert ridge, as you climb to 8,375 feet. The landscape is dry, and barren and feels hostile.

  16. Bodie Ghost Town

    Bodie Sate Park (also known as Bodie Ghost Town) in California is the site of a former gold rush town that was abandoned in 1926. We've seen Hollywood recreate these types of towns hundreds of times for movies and shows, but to visit a real life authentic wild west gold mining ghost town town … what an experience!

  17. Bodie State Historic Park

    Generally speaking, 3-4 hours should be enough time for visiting Bodie State Historic Park. If you want to visit every single building and take a lot of pictures, plan rather 5 hours. Facilities. Bodie is a ghost town. To preserve its genuine original atmosphere, there are no commercial facilities, such as food, souvenir shops or gas station.

  18. Bodie Ghost Town

    What is Bodie Ghost Town? The abandoned town of Bodie is a remarkable open-air museum and a perfect representation of the California Gold Rush with all its ups and downs. Today it is managed by Bodie State Historic Park. While visiting Bodie Ghost Town, you can admire a total of 170 buildings remaining from the gold rush times.

  19. The History of Bodie Ghost Town

    An Unforgettable Wild-West Experience: Bodie Ghost Town If you're thinking of visiting Bodie Ghost Town, you are in for a treat! The town is one of the best-preserved, historic towns from the era of the wild, wild west.

  20. Bodie CA: An 'Arrested Decay' Ghost Town

    Getting To Bodie CA. Visiting Bodie isn't just a quick stop on a California road trip. Getting there takes some effort. The ghost town is located in a remote area in the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountain range, close to Bridgeport, June Lake and Yosemite National Park. It's in Mono County, about an hour north of Mono Lake on Highway 395.

  21. Bodie Ghost Town California: The Wild West Frozen in Time

    Visit Bodie State Historic Park, California Welcome to Bodie Ghost town. Entrance Fee: $8 for adults, $5 for children under sixteen Bodie State Park is open all year. However, because of the high elevation (8375 feet), it is accessible only by skis, snowshoes or snowmobiles during winter months.

  22. The History and Geology of the Bodie Ghost Town

    Home The History and Geology of the Bodie Ghost Town December 18, 2023 Author Jason Abplanalp first discovered the Eastern Sierra lifestyle six years ago and after brief tenures in Colorado and Idaho, Jason returned to the mountain town he truly loves, Mammoth Lakes, CA.

  23. Bodie Ghost Town

    The Bodie ghost town in Washington is located on the east banks of Toroda Creek, 12 miles north of Wauconda in the far northeast corner of Okanogan County. ... Bodie on a fall 2016 visit. Bodie on a fall 2016 visit. Bodie on a fall 2016 visit. In 1902, the Bodie gold mine was sold to the Wrigley brothers for $80,000. Yes, the very same brothers ...

  24. Is Bodie CA worth visiting?

    No, there is an entrance fee to visit Bodie ghost town. The fee is $8 for adults and $5 for children 18 and under. Children 3 and under can enter for free. Why is Bodie California abandoned? Bodie's slow decline began in 1879 and continued with a series of booms and busts.

  25. Mapped: Arkansas' ghost towns

    Bodie, California, is an abandoned gold-mining town turned state historic park. Visitors can see the old church, mining museum and over 100 original buildings. Visitors can see the old church ...