Bodie is a ghost town frozen in time high in the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountain Range of California. The once bustling Gold mining town sits as a vacant, decaying reminder of the temporary nature of life. Having a reputation for being one of the wildest places in the old west Bodie is still a bustling place for tourists to explore.
Bodie is located above 8000 feet in elevation and home to some frightful winter conditions. The altitude has served to both preserve and destroy the structures that were part of the Bodie township. Ten percent of the buildings that once existed remain, and many are still filled with the furnishings of when they were in use. The town appears to have been abandoned rather than moved from, adding to the “Ghost Town” aura.
Walking the streets of Bodie is surreal, we were lucky to catch a partly cloudy day that added to the scope. Though abandoned in the early 1940’s, Bodie seems to have somehow escaped the vandalism and theft so often associated with sites left alone. Whether it is the remote nature of Bodie, superstitious belief, or early park status the town remains mainly a victim of time and nature.
Bodie at one time was home to nearly 10,000 people, hundreds of buildings, and a reputation as rough as one could find in the day. This was a town that barely slept, home to thriving mining operations, gambling, saloons, gunpoint entrepreneurs and all that goes along with such an environment.
Bodie became a California State Historic Park in 1962, and has been developed over the years since. The Bodie State Historic Park is 13 miles East on Bodie Rd. off of Highway 395, the majority of which is paved. Bodie has no services to speak of other than bathrooms and a small bookstore in the museum. Other than a guided Stamp Mill tour every 50 minutes, visitors take a self guided tour. The brochure received at the entrance station is very complete and does a great job of presenting the life and times of Bodie.
Bodie is a great stop for a 395 traveler, but I would only try it in the good weather months even though it is open year round.