Bodie is one of the best-preserved ghost towns in the US. It was once a thriving boomtown with over 10,000 people and home to one of the richest gold strikes in California.
This wild, wide-open gold mining town had a notorious reputation for danger and evil, inspiring the famous quote “Goodbye, God, I’m going to Bodie – a diary entry from a little girl moving from San Francisco to Bodie.
By 1879, more than 2,000 buildings dotted the rolling hills with 70 saloons, a bowling alley, dance halls, gambling halls, general stores, hotels, churches and about 200 restaurants.
Today, this once-thriving gold town is visited by tourists, howling winds and the occasional ghost. Officially named a state park in 1962, Bodie has almost 200 structures still standing and is in a state of “arrested decay,” meaning nothing has been repaired.
So much of Bodie remains that it’s easy to imagine the past as it was, with houses and businesses lining the streets.
The church, a home and a few other buildings are open to the public. Free tours are on offer to take visitors around the town – including the processing stamp mill.
At 8,375 feet in elevation, Bodie’s high altitude and desert location make the air exceptionally dry. Water and sun cream is a must.
Need to know
The state park is open daily, but hours vary by season. In the Winter, Bodie is only accessible by over-snow vehicles. The park charges an entrance fee. For the full experience, we’d advise allocating several hours to all day at Bodie, depending on whether you take a guided tour. During the summer, Bodie is open longer than in winter.
Getting to Bodie from Mammoth Lakes
Take US Highway 395 north approximately 35 miles, then take State Route 270. Go east 10 miles to the end of the pavement and continue three miles on a dirt road to Bodie. The last three miles can be rough at times. Reduced speeds are necessary.
From 15 May – 31 October, Bodie is open from 9:00-18:00. In winter hours are 9:00-15:00. Bodies hours may vary due to weather or season and are posted at all entrances.
Admission fees to Bodie State Historic Park
$7 per adult 17 or older
$5 per child 16 and younger
For more information – visitmammoth.com
If this article has inspired you to make a visit to the US, read our ultimate winter road trip guide to California here.