A Ghost Town that Lives on
W.S. Bodie discovered gold here back in 1859. Unfortunately he died in a snow storm that winter and never saw the town that took on his name.
Over the years, Bodie has seen numerous booms…and busts. There were some huge gold strikes here and, at one point, the town had nearly 10,000 residents. By 1882 though, the big strikes were mostly history and the folks began to go elsewhere.
Today Bodie is one of the largest and best preserved ghost towns in the West. Over 170 buildings remain and what the California Department of Parks and Recreations calls a state of “arrested decay.” It is, without a doubt, a photographer’s paradise. History buffs and fans of the old West will find walking through Bodie a remarkable experience.
You’ll find no tourist traps or fancy recreated saloons here. No food, no drinks except for three water fountains. The only business doing commerce is the Bodie Museum (open from May to October). The museum is free to the public and offers postcards, books, film and a few other items.
Since 1962, Bodie is has been a California State Park and is open year round weather permitting. In the wintertime though, some connecting roads and most trans-Sierra highways can be closed because of snow accumulations. With an elevation of 8375 feet, the snow gets deep here. Winter weather can be unpredictable. Sub-zero temperatures, strong winds and white-out conditions are not unusual.
The park is open from 8am to 7pm during the summer & 8am to 4pm during the winter (sometimes hours change and are strictly enforced). Because of the elevation, Bodie is accessible only by over-snow equipment during the winter months. Many four wheel drive vehicles get stuck each year in snow drifts that, upon first appearance, look passable. Spring can be uncanny, too, with mud that can strand vehicles. TOWING FACILITIES ARE NOT AVAILABLE.
The Bodie preservation story has a post script with the California Department of Parks and Recreation announcing in 1997 that Bodie State Park had literally doubled in size to more than 1,000 acres. That government agency acquired 520 acres that had been considered for open-pit gold mining. … Amazing that this latest gold claim would come more than 120 years after the original. Preservationists can be appreciative. This acquisition put an end to the possibility of mining in the area … and its impact so close to this wonderful, old town.
Bodie is 13 miles east of Highway 395 on Highway 270, which is 6 miles south of Bridgeport. Click here for a map of the area. FYI: Highway 270 is open only sporadically in the winter time and is not paved on the final 3 miles to Bodie.
For more information on Bodie, contact the Bodie State Historic Park; P.O. Box 515; Bridgeport, California 93517. Their phone number is 760 647-6445. There is a $2 adult, $1 children (ages 6 & under) admission charge to get into the park. Dogs may accompany visitors into the townsite but must be on a leash at all times. Flush toilets are available in the parking lot.