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At the edge of california’s eastern sierra and the great basin lie the bodie hills.

About the Bodie Hills

Bodie state historic park, home to california’s official ghost town and one of the most popular state parks, lies in the center of the bodie hills. visitors who venture beyond the state park enjoy hiking, biking, camping, botanizing, bird watching, hunting and motor touring through aspen-tinged valleys and across high plateaus with vistas of the sierra nevada, mono lake and the great basin. the bodie hills are home to pronghorn antelope, sage grouse and mule deer, and contain one of the highest concentrations of archaeological resources in the great basin. learn more..., want to stay updated sign up for our email newsletter, start exploring the special places of the bodie hills, mt. biedeman wsa.

bodie hills ghost town

Bodie Mountain WSA

bodie hills ghost town

The Bodie Hills Conservation Partnership

Learn more about who we are an our mission to help preserve the beautiful bodie hills for generations to come..., news, updates and more about how you can help protect the bodie hills with updates from our blog....

bodie hills ghost town

The Bodie Hills Conservation Partnership Newsletter Issue 4/October 2023

bodie hills ghost town

The Bodie Hills Conservation Partnership Newsletter Issue 3/July 2023

bodie hills ghost town

The Bodie Hills Conservation Partnership Newsletter Issue 2/April 2023

bodie hills ghost town

The Bodie Hills Conservation Partnership Newsletter is Back!

bodie hills ghost town

The Bodie Hills are part of the core range of the declining Pinyon Jays

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The Bodie Hills contain outstanding natural and cultural values. The mountains are a transition zone between the Sierra Nevada and the Great Basin and thus harbor a diverse assemblage of plant and animal species. including pika, lodgepole pine, Sierra juniper and Utah juniper. The Nature Conservancy has noted that the Bodie Hills “are among the most biodiverse in the Great Basin ecoregion"

The very heart of the bodie hills faces threats from large-scale gold mining interests if protections are lifted. visitor access would be limited, and important habitat for sage grouse, pronghorn antelope and mule deer would be fragmented..

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bodie hills 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 BodieFoundation.org 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: BodieFoundation.org 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. 

Essential Mono County

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bodie hills 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.

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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.

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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.

bodie hills 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.

Please share this article on Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter .

bodie hills 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.

bodie hills 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.

Marisol@TravelingSolemates

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 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.

Back to Contents

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

20 Comments

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.

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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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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.

Don’t Take ANYTHING

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.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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!

Planning a Sierra Nevada vacation? Check out these related articles below!

Best Hot Springs in & Near the Mammoth Lakes Area 

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Lake Tahoe Camping Guide

Best Lake Tahoe Hikes

Where to Find the Best Camping in Kings Canyon National Park

Sequoia National Park Camping

Best Hikes in Sequoia National Park & Kings Canyon

Best Campgrounds in Yosemite National Park

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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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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 Booking.com 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 –

https://www.bodiefoundation.org/current-projects/

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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A History of Bodie, America's Most Notorious Ghost Town

bodie hills ghost town

Bodie ’s story began in 1859, after the major Gold Rush period in California. When four prospectors struck gold in a small valley 75 miles southeast of Lake Tahoe . The prospectors came to this specific part of California, known as the Mother Lode region, in search of the much sought after gold. This small, gold-laden valley and the now developed mining outpost was hit by a violent blizzard shortly after the four prospectors discovered the gold. W.S. Body, one of the four, died as a result from the blizzard. This death gave the freshly settled district its name.

Stroke of luck.

The district’s name’s spelling changed in 1862 when a painter who lived in the next town over wrote a sign that read “ Bodie Stables.” When the residents loved the misspelling better than the original “Body,” the district permanently changed it to “ Bodie .”

The hot boom of gold in Bodie faded almost as quickly as it appeared. In its prime, there were a large number of wealthy companies that had bought claims at Bodie , developing multiple mines and two stamp mills. But by 1868, the financially invested in mines and mills were completely abandoned. It appeared that Bodie had already been nearly bled dry of all gold and the difficult terrain of Bodie didn’t help the oncoming hardship either.

A glimmer of hope remained in a small bunch of prospectors and miners. For seven years, a minimal amount of gold trickled in but that seemed to be enough for the remaining gold hunters in Bodie to stick around. More mines, tunnels, and shafts were dug. Other residents made the little currency they had by washing placer gravel.

bodie hills ghost town

The luck of Bodie

The luck of Bodie finally struck once again when one of the mines, Bunker Hill, caved in 1875. What could have been the beginning of a huge downfall for Bodie turned into its saving when the mine collapse gave way to a huge body of gold. There was so much of it that word got all the way to San Francisco and a wave of city prospectors flocked to get a piece of what Bodie had.

The exposed gold mine was so prodigious and fruitful that a group of capitalists formed a company in Bodie and bought out the entire claim. The newly formed Standard Company ended up deeply benefiting from this purchase. During the year 1877 Standard was able to produce a whopping $784,523 in both gold and silver bullion.

That would roughly equal over $17.5 million today.

Bodie became full of new residents and miners. More and more wealthy companies and investors bought shares in this now booming town. All of Bodie and even outsiders became heavily optimistic that this was going to be one of the most prosperous towns in the region. High spending investors from both San Francisco and New York City practically threw money into Bodie in order to dig deeper mines to find what they were sure to be even more gold.

Except for the fact that there wasn’t any evidence to show that there was more gold to find… By the near end of 1878, 22 mines were dug with incredibly expensive machines for the search for next big pay day.

Settlers came from all over to Bodie to be a part of the wealth. In a year, the population grew from 7,000 to 8,000 residents. Because of the overflow of people, all on the hunt for gold, Bodie fell victim to becoming quite the violent Wild West boomtown.

The Decline

It didn’t take long for the inevitable in Bodie ; a mere couple years after the immaculate growth of the town, the decline began to set in. The expensive machinery used in the multiple mines and mills needed more expensive upkeep and supplies. Hardly any gold was being found anymore. Residents weren’t able to work in a mining town that wasn’t much mining of anything. A few mines that seemed so hopeful just a year or two prior were completely abandoned and the developed companies weren’t coming out with much more than mere silver.

Even before the new year of 1881 people began leaving Bodie , trying to find the next profitable town. The boomtown’s population dwindled and dwindled until it reached a tiny 800.

For those 800 people, Bodie had just enough left in it to support them for three more decades; however, barely. While some companies were still able to continue digging their mines, when they would find gold, it was hardly enough for the company, let alone the workers. Finally the digging and mining stopped, proving fruitless.

The already low profit coming into Bodie continued to fluctuate but ultimately it plummeted. Companies tried to cut down on expenses anyway they could, but more residents left. The very first company to form from Bodie ’s prime, the Standard Company, gave up in 1913, deeming Bodie depleted of riches. The Standard was the town’s most wealthy mine and company. The remaining handful of companies still open continued the struggle to stay afloat.

The years following Standard’s closing, some hopeful prospectors tried to revive Bodie ’s hills and mines, but to no avail. New technology of the 1900s motivated companies to attempt to build Bodie ’s economy again. By the time World War II and its hardships hit, barren Bodie was abandoned once again. Not long after, Bodie ’s population dropped to zero.

bodie hills ghost town

Residents left whatever they couldn’t carry behind in Bodie . Old shelves in general stores and bars were left stocked, people left furniture and structures all behind.

In 1962, it was decided that Bodie would officially become a National Historic Site and a State Historic Park. The town was declared to be in “arrested decay”, which orders the preservation of ruins.

The now completely abandoned Bodie has become one of California’s most preserved ghost town . Travelers can visit Bodie , walk the dirt streets, and explore the preserved ghostly ruins. Visitors will even hear a spooky ghost story or two.

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Bodie Ghost Town

Hello everyone! This is a friendly reminder that any of these fun places we may visit, we are a guest at. Please treat both businesses and trails with the utmost respect. We here at Hidden California follow the 'Leave no Trace' mantra, meaning whatever you bring with you comes back with you. If you see trash on a trail, please do your part to help remove it. Remember, we are not picking up trash from another person but instead cleaning up for Mother Nature. Happy adventures!

Bodie Masonic Rd. Bridgeport, CA 91934

38.213730, -119.015468

(760) 647-6445

Dog-Friendly:  No     Kid-Friendly:  Yes

Park Hours:  Summer hours: 9am-6pm (March 18th to October 31st)

Winter hours: 9am to 4pm (November 1st to March 17th)

Prices:  Adults: $8 per person // Children: $5 per child (ages 3 to 17) // Children ages 3 and under are free

**Only cash or checks are accepted at the Park Entrance Station**

Winter Visits:  Bodie is open all year. However, because of the high elevation (8375 feet), it is accessible only by skis, snowshoes or snowmobiles during winter months. Snowmobiles must stay on designated roads in the Bodie Hills.

Note:  To preserve the ghost town atmosphere, there are no commercial facilities at Bodie, such as food or gasoline.

History:  Bodie is a ghost town in the Bodie Hills east of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in  Mono County

bodie ghost town hidden ca

Bodie began as a mining camp of little note following the discovery of gold in 1859 by a group of prospectors, including W. S. Bodey. Bodey perished in a blizzard the following November, never getting to see the rise of the town that was named after him.

Also registered as a California Historical Landmark, the ghost town officially became Bodie State Historic Park in 1962, and receives about 200,000 visitors yearly.

Gold discovered at Bodie coincided with the discovery of silver at nearby Aurora (thought to be in California, later found to be Nevada), and the distant Comstock Lode beneath Virginia City, Nevada. But while these two towns boomed, interest in Bodie remained lackluster. By 1868 only two companies had built stamp mills at Bodie, and both had failed. Learn more here .

bodie hills ghost town

Haunted?  Those who lived in Bodie were said to be highly protective of their land and all they had built.  There have been many reports of ghostly apparitions and even a curse left on the land to anyone who steals any belongings.  Either this is a great way to keep people from stealing or perhaps the curse is actually true!

Personal Experience:  This is definitely a spot everyone should visit at least once in their lives.  It was pretty hot the day we visited which cut our trip shorter than it probably would have otherwise.  Very cool spot to explore though.  Unlike the other abandoned places we explore, this spot is flocking with tourists.  The drive is on a dirt road and waaayyyy out there, so make sure your vehicle is running well before heading out here!

The drive is very beautiful but make sure your car can handle it!  It is on a long, dirt road, climbing a mountain:

bodie hills ghost town

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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 http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/roadinfo/display.php?page=sr270

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: http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=509 Mammoth Lakes Tourism Bodie webpage: http://visitmammoth.com/things-to-do/summer-activities/bodie Additional websites on Bodie history:

  • http://www.bodie.com
  • http://www.bodiehistory.com

https://youtu.be/PEWv7oGUJmQ

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Bodie California – Mono County Ghost Town

Bodie, California is the ghost town by which all others are judged.  Located at 8300 in the Bodie Hills above Mono Lake, Bodie is the largest and perhaps best preserved ghost town in America. Established as a ghost town and state park in 1962, the town site is now administered by the Bodie Foundation.

Currently preserved in “Arrested Decay” a condition and phrase coined by the State of California for the Bodie, the town site is preserved as it was found in 1962. This essentially maintains the structures as the were at that time, and work may be done to keep them to that standard. Some buildings get new roofs, windows sealed and foundation rebuilt to preserve the state of degradation. It is because of this forward thinking policy that the town remains in the state of decline that it does.

Bodie CA is a town lost in arrested decay. Photograph by James L Rathbun

I remember my first visit to Bodie was probably in the the late 1970’s.  My father drove our old Ford truck into the town, and as I jumped out my eyes found the old Standard Mill.  The Standard Mill still dominates the valley with its grayish-blue siding, multiple smoke stakes and extreme size.  The Standard Mill is the most intact mill in California and processed over $14 million dollars in gold during its 25 years of service.

Evelyn Myers, a three year old girls grave marker located in Bodie, CA reminds us that not all mine camps were filled with men. Photograph by James L Rathbun

Formed in 1859, the town under went several mining booms, busts and fires.  At it’s peak in 1879, Bodie hosted 5000 – 7000 souls, 65 saloons, a “Redlight” district, a china town, four volunteer fire stations, several newspapers, churches and of coarse, a Jail.  Bodie maintain a rough reputation over the years and suffers from murders, shoot outs, stage robberies and the odd bar room brawl.

They say you were wild and woolly, Bodie And fast on the draw as them make ’em; That you lived at ease with the bad and the bold, Who thought nothing of shooting a man down cold, And defying the law to take ’em Lillian Ninnis

By 1910 the population settled at about 700 people, mostly families, as the miners and those who service the miners moved on to more prosperous areas.  The last printed paper was in 1912, and signaled the beginning of the end for the scrappy little town.  Although labelled a ghost town in 1915, Bodie continued to linger and dwindle is size until 1940 when the Post Office closed.

The interior of a general store is virtually the way it was when the store owner left Bodie, Photograph by James L Rathbun

Under threat and vandalism the state of California took over the town site, and currently hosts some 200,000 visitors per year.

Remote locations, harsh weather and rustic builds make Bodie is a popular site for photographers.

The road into Bodie is accessible to almost any vehicle, but can server as a launch point the many back roads and trails. Nearby attractions are Masonic, Chemung and Aurora who like to get off the beaten path.

A weathered wagon wheel in Bodie reminds us of a bygone era. Photograph by James L Rathbun

Gold was first discovered in the Mono Lake region in 1352 and placer gold was then discovered at the future site of Bodie in July, 1859* by William S. Body. On July 10, 1860, the Bodie Mining District was organized. In August, 1859 quarts veins were also discovered in the area, but the lack of -water and the extreme difficulties of transporting supplies and equipment over the mountains and desert tended to severely restrict mining activities at Bodie for some time. From 1860 to 1877, Bodie polled only some 20 votes a year, and in 1865 the town still had only SOP 14 small frame and adobe houses. In 1876-77, however, new quartz discoveries were made at the Bodie and Standard mines, touching off a great gold rush to Bodie in 1878. From a few shacks, a term of some 250 wooden buildings rapidly appeared in the desert and the population leaped to 10,000 or 12,000 persons, with the usual assortment of gambling dens, breweries, saloons, and the nightly shootings, stabbings and brawls. Bodie soon merited the title of “Shooters Town,” and a “Bad Man from Bodie” was then universally recognized to be a particularly unpleasant individual. In 1879, when Bodie reached its pinnacle, its main street was over a-mile long and built solidly with one and two-story frame buildings. In 1881 a 32- mile narrow gauge railroad was constructed from Mono Lake to Bodie to carry in fuel and lumber. % 1883, however, the boom was over and all but the Bodie and Standard mines closed down; these two mines finally consolidated in 1887. In 1895 Bodie had a small revival when the cyanide process of recovering gold was put in use, Mining continued intermittently up to World War II, when Bodie finally became a true ghost town. NATIONAL SURVEY OF HISTORIC SITES AND BUILDINGS

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  • Ghost Towns of America: Bodie, California

Located in the Bodie Hills, the once prosperous mining town of Bodie, California has been considered a ghost town since 1915.

Bodie is a ghost town located in the Bodie Hills of Mono County, in the US state of California. The location of the town is 75 miles southeast of Lake Tahoe and 12 miles east-southeast of Bridgeport City. Bodie has an elevation of 2,554 meters. The US Department of the Interior recognizes Bodie Historic District as a National Historic Landmark. As a result, the town receives approximately 200,000 visitors yearly. The Bodie Foundation is responsible for the administration of Bodie Town since 2012.

The Bodie Gold Rush

Bodie began as a mining center in 1859 due to the discovery of gold by W.S.Bodey and other prospectors. Unfortunately, Bodey passed on the following November while on a supply trip to present day Mono City in California. The small town embraced the name “Bodie” after him. About the same time as prospectors discovered gold in Bodie, there was also the discovery of silver at Aurora and Comstock Lode in Nevada. However, the silver mining ventures boomed in these towns while the gold mining in Bodie slacked. By the year 1868, the two stamping mills built by two companies failed.

Eight years later, the Standard Company discovered a profitable gold-bearing ore deposit in Bodie. The discovery of gold stirred up the mining business boom in Bodie and attracted many people to it. By 1879, the population of Bodies was around 5,000 to 7,000 people. In addition, there were about 2,000 buildings in the town. As years passed on, the value of gold at Bodie was approximately US$34 million. The town had nine stamp mills and the gold company transported the gold bullions to either Carson City or San Francisco for minting. During the boom, Bodie had a telegraph line, the Wells Fargo Bank, four volunteer fire companies, a railroad, a cemetery, a mortuary, and a jail. In addition, the Standard Pioneer Journal of Mono County published a thrice-weekly newspaper. With time, there were daily printing of newspapers in Bodie town. Bodie also had its own Chinatown with hundreds of Chinese residents. At the peak of the gold mining business in Bodie, the town had 65 saloons. Murders, stagecoach holdups, barroom brawls, and shootouts became common occurrences.

The Decline of Bodie

There were signs of the decline of Bodie town in the early 1880s. By the end of the year, it became obvious that the town was taking a downhill turn. Bodie miners were get-rich-quick people. When they heard of promising mining booms in Arizona, Montana, Tombstone, Utah, and Butte they were drawn away from Bodie. The population of the town declined significantly. As a result, the mining town turned into a family-oriented community. The residents built the Methodist Church and Roman Catholic Church in 1882. The Methodist Church still exists today, however the Roman Catholic Church burned in 1930. During this period, the gold mines produced gold worth US$3.1 million. Furthermore, a new railroad called Bodie Railway & Lumber Company was built. It facilitated transport of cordwood, mine timbers, and lumber to Bodie town. The population kept decreasing until only 698 people were left in 1910. In 1913, the Standard Consolidated Mine shut down, and in 1914 the last gold mine closed down. The town received the label of “ghost town” the following year.

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Bodie: The Ghostliest of Ghost Towns

Bodie | Sandi Hemmerlein

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bodie hills ghost town

So much of what we encounter today in Southern California is an approximation of the Old West. After all, what we know about the saloon girls, gunfights and gold bonanzas comes from watching Hollywood’s recreations of them. No one alive today has seen a real standoff between "cowboys and Indians." And there’s no living person to tell the tales of living in the Wild, Wild West.

Surely the movie studios based their set-building and screenwriting on written accounts, illustrations, and perhaps even blueprints or photographs. But the result has been re-creations — like Pioneertown, Paramount Ranch, Gene Autry’s Melody Ranch and Corriganville. Even Calico, which was once a true mining town, was transformed into a theme park — and still operates as one today.

To get a more authentic experience beyond the movie ranches, you’ve got to get out past the 30-mile zone. And there’s no ghost town that provides a more honest-to-goodness slice of life like Bodie.

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Nestled in the Bodie Hills, about five and a half miles from the California-Nevada state line as the crow flies, the former Old West town of Bodie owes much of its authenticity to its remoteness. It’s a six-hour drive north from Downtown Los Angeles, a dozen or more miles off the 395 down a paved road that turns into dirt and is seasonally impassible. At nearly 8,400 feet of elevation, it’s above the tree line, and the air that whips about in the wind is thin. Bodie’s subarctic climate is too frosty for agriculture, and the winters can be so harsh that the snow piles up to at least one story high.

Those inhospitable conditions — and total isolation — kept Bodie from being razed and developed after it was abandoned as a mining camp in the 1940s. That allowed California to acquire it and designate it as a state historic park in the 1960s and preserve it in a state of arrested decay , circa 1962.

Since then, nothing has been rebuilt , and nothing ever will be rebuilt again. (Although a roof or two has been replaced as part of stabilization efforts.) If a building is falling down, it will be allowed to fall, although there is a budget to prop it up and keep it leaning, if not entirely standing. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

For now, the town is a time capsule that visitors from all over the world come to see. Through the clear glass windows, you can peer at tattered curtains and original furnishings and dishware.

But in a turn of bittersweet irony, what kept developers away from Bodie may be exactly what brings its ultimate demise. The snow, wind, rain and moisture chip away at the historic site piece-by-piece, winter after winter. And that’s what may eventually take this frozen-in-time town away from us entirely.

Unsafe ground at Bodie | Sandi Hemmerlein

In the meantime, as we approach Bodie’s sesquicentennial (in the year 2026), there’s plenty of the town to behold. Though even now, it’s just a sliver of the original gold-mining town. After it was founded in 1876, Bodie was actually similar in size to Los Angeles, but it was a world away. It was the richest of boomtowns in California (though outperformed by Virginia City, Nevada in terms of lode), and it was also the wildest — earning its place as home to “The Bad Men of Bodie.”

Legend has it that the population of this so-called “Shooters Town” peaked at an estimated 10 to 12 thousand, nearly all men working in the gold and silver mines or in the stamp mill. They worked hard, with the mill running 24 hours a day, six days a week. During their time off, they drank hard.

The saloons are lost among the disembodied doorways, but there were probably plenty of spirits to swill at the now-askew Swazey Hotel (named after its proprietor, Nevada rancher Horace F. Swasey), which also served as a casino. There’s also the DeChambeau Hotel , a rare brick structure originally built as a post office, and the meeting hall for the Independent Order of Odd Fellows next door.

Outside the standard mill at Bodie | Sandi Hemmerlein

In fact, after fires burned down much of Bodie — two times; once in the 1890s and another in the 1930s — practically none of the business district remains. Among the 100-some-odd extant structures throughout the state park (reduced from nearly two thousand at full boom), there’s the Methodist Church (the sole survivor of the two that were built); a general store, schoolhouse, jail, livery stable, and barbershop; the Morticians' Building (with caskets still inside); and a few other odds and ends. There is one structure that was rebuilt by the California Conservation Corps after the 1932 fire: the firehouse.

In the residential section, which is untouched by fire, there are plenty of houses and outhouses that once belonged to such Bodie luminaries as former President of the Southern Consolidated Mining Co. James Stuart Cain (a banker whose family eventually owned most of Bodie), Miners Union Secretary A. E. McMillan, Deputy Sheriff Stewart Kirkwood, blacksmith Frank F. Quinville, cattle rancher Nathan Gregory, Dr. John A. Street, and attorney and former California Senator Patrick Reddy .”

Many, if not most, of those folks can now be found in the pioneer cemetery, reserved for those Bodie residents who lost their lives outside of any dastardly deeds. Most likely, they succumbed to the unforgiving cold and snow — particularly the children and babies. Even the town’s namesake, William Bodey of Poughkeepsie, New York, who first discovered gold there in 1859 , perished in a snowstorm before he could witness his town hit the big time and really strike it rich to the tune of millions in gold and, to a lesser extent, silver.

About 80 graves are marked, but more lie underfoot throughout the Miners Union and Masonic sections. At Foundry Hill Summit, there’s the gravesite for former stamp mill owner Warren Loose, who wanted to continue to look over the claim even from the afterlife.

Outlaws, prostitutes, bandits, and others of the sort are buried beyond the boundary of the proper graveyard in a “boot hill” (so named because the dead were usually buried in such a hurry, their boots were still on) known as the Bodie Outcast Cemetery .

The Methodist church at Bodie | Sandi Hemmerlein

At the other end of Bodie, nearly a mile across the ghost town lies a fenced-off hazardous area and the crème de la crème of any visit to Bodie: The Standard Mill. Built in 1899 (as fire destroyed its predecessor), The Standard Consolidated Mining Company’s old stamp mill survived Bodie's last fire relatively unscathed, thanks mostly to its metal exterior. Its equipment is still in place, functional and dangerous. The interior is dark, dusty, smelly, and shadowy, with water-warped floors, uneven stairs, low clearance doorways, and wires and belts hanging from the ceiling everywhere. It may only be entered with a guide at designated tour times for a fee .

Bodie’s heyday may have been short-lived, but its legacy persists. Perhaps we’ve lost more than we have now, and there’s surely more loss to come. Now that it’s under the stewardship of the Bodie Foundation , a 501(c)(3) non-profit, it’s somewhat protected — at least from vandals like those who picked the town apart in the 1940s and 1950s. Of course, there’s nothing to be done about the snow, the cold, and the wind.

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ncesc-geographic-faq

Is Bodie CA worth visiting?

geographic-faq

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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idaho uncovered

11 Creepy Idaho Ghost Towns You’ll Never Forget

Do you love exploring abandoned places? Are you a fan of history and the Wild West? If so, Idaho is the perfect destination for you! From small mining towns to larger cities, Idaho is home to many ghost towns that are just waiting to be explored. Whether you’re looking for a spooky adventure or simply want to discover the past, Idaho’s ghost towns offer something for everyone. So buckle up and join us as we take a closer look at some of these fascinating historical sites!

The ghost towns of Idaho will transport you back to a time when people lived by a different code and worked hard for their survival. In many cases, these towns have a colorful past filled with stories of miners, ranchers, performers, and even outlaws! The remains of old saloons, churches, hotels and other structures give visitors an insight into the lives of those who lived there before them.

So whether you’re an adventure seeker or simply curious about Idaho’s rich history – don’t miss out on visiting one of Idaho’s unique ghost towns.

Warren Idaho

warren idaho ghost town

If you’re looking for a creepy ghost town with a lot of character Warren is for you. Warren established itself as a gold mining district on July 22, 1862. From 1866 to 1868, Warren was the most prosperous mining town in Northern Idaho . Then, in 1874, Chinese miners dominated the mining industry and further developed Warren until 1876. 

When in Warren , tourists can indulge in the “Warren Historic Walking Tour” to see the buildings and hear stories about the town. Another highlight is the Chinese Gardens, located eight miles from Warren. 

The town’s historic artifacts provide a glimpse into the heritage and culture of the Chinese-American settlers during Warren’s economic prosperity.

Don’t miss the Warren Baum Shelter for some great food or a cold beverage. It’s a great little tavern which is full of history and some unique artifacts.

Pierce Idaho Ghost Town

Pierce idaho mining towns

Captain E.D. Pierce found Pierce as he led a group in search of minerals. Pierce marks the beginning of Idaho’s gold mining as one of the state’s first mining districts. 

Life still exists in Pierce. In 2019, the town’s population had 553 residents, according to the United States Census Bureau. A notable building is the Pierce Courthouse which is a historical reminder of Pierce’s mining days. 

While Pierce is not technically a ghost town, it is notable since it is one of Idaho’s first mining towns . When in Pierce, tourists should visit the Pierce Courthouse and the J. Howard Bradbury Logging Museum.  

If you happen to be in Idaho in August, consider visiting Pierce during their “1860s Days,” an event hosted by the town to celebrate its beginnings and contribution to the Idaho gold rush. 

Placerville 

placerville idaho ghost town

Placerville is one of the gold mining towns discovered during the Idaho gold rush. In 1862, Placerville, along with Idaho City and Centerville, were the top Idaho mining camps. Early days attracted thousands of residents to Placerville, but Idaho City later surpassed Placerville due to its long-lasting water supply in the spring. 

Placerville is one of the old mining towns in the Boise Basin where remnants of the district still exist.

Silver City Ghost Town

silver city idaho

Silver City is one of the mining towns that didn’t burn down. Fortunately, the mining town survived through the 1875 California Bank Failure and, during that time, managed to produce a yield of about $40 million. 

Visiting Silver City is like “taking a step back in time” due to the vast historical buildings that still stand. In particular, the Idaho Hotel is a notable attraction that appears as it did 100 years ago.

De Lamar Ghost Town

de lamar idaho historic town

Joseph DeLamar, a former sea captain, established De Lamar in 1888 and cleverly named it after himself. His creativity quickly paid off as the town grew to great wealth and prosperity due to large silver deposits that were uncovered in the nearby Owyhee Mountains.

De Lamar experienced tremendous success in a short amount of time, but when the mining industry began to dwindle, many residents left in search of employment and more prosperous prospects. The situation worsened further after World War I as plummeting silver prices caused an additional exodus from De Lamar. Ultimately, these departures led to its ultimate abandonment by 1914.

Despite some buildings enduring the test of time, many have been reduced to ashes due to fires. The De Lamar area currently encompasses an expansive 1,600 acres and is recognized by the National Register of Historic Places.

Rocky Bar Idaho

rocky bar idaho ghost town

When miners searched for more gold outside of the Boise Basin, they found the Rocky Bar. Rocky Bar was a mining camp, and it, unfortunately, closed down during the war in 1942.

Rocky Bar is truly a ghost town that brings frequent visitors every year. A notable tourist attraction is the Rocky Bar Masonic Hall that George Golden rebuilt in 1892 after it burned down.

Leesburg Mining Camp

leesburg idaho mining town

Miners found Leesburg during the mining expansion in Montana. In 1866 they found gold, and 500-600 miners decided to settle in Leesburg. During the camp’s mining days, they reached a population of about 2,000, and in 1868 they produced $100 million in gold. 

Not much remains in Leesburg except some dilapidated buildings. When there, you will see plaques that contain photos and historical information about the town.

Custer and Bonanza Ghost Town

Nestled on the westernmost edge of Salmon-Challis National Forest, you’ll find Bonanza and Custer Ghost Town. All that stands between you and this historic destination is a 20 minute drive down Route 75 until Sunbeam, then followed by a left onto Yankee Fork Road. In no time at all, these creepy ghost towns will come into view to your left!

In 1878, Bonanza and Custer Ghost Town were established as two distinct towns that eventually became one due to their close proximity. After the General Custer Mill revealed to be a wealth of tetrahedrite, sphalerite, and chalcopyrite, towns sprung up around it in no time. The mine fueled its inhabitants for years until early 1900s when miners decided to seek more lucrative prospects elsewhere.

The majority of the remaining structures are well-maintained, creating an opportunity for tourists to take a step back in time. Detailed maps and informative historical markers can help you gain further insight into this town’s past.

In addition to the many preserved buildings, visitors can also take a short walk up from the ghost town and explore one of America’s best-maintained gold dredges – The Yankee Fork Gold Dredge. It is certainly worth seeing!

Bayhorse Ghost Town

Step back in time and explore the mining past of historic Bayhorse Ghost Town, one of the most well-preserved ghost towns in Idaho! Here visitors will uncover a range of sites such as charcoal kilns, cabins, a cemetery and even an old saloon – all near pristine Salmon River.

The Bayhorse Ghost Town, nestled beside Idaho’s Salmon River, was once home to miners who were on the hunt for gold and silver. When locals first established it in 1877, there weren’t many inhabitants – but when news spread of their mineral findings, residents began flocking in droves!

As the town expanded, so did its requirements. To make transportation of minerals easier, citizens constructed an aerial tramway to wagons. Unfortunately, tragedy struck a few years later when part of Bayhorse Ghost Town was set ablaze. Shortly after this incident there began a scarcity of water which further eroded the town’s population until it was deserted by the 1920s and never recovered from its devastation.

Cariboo City

caribou mountain ghost town idaho

Miners arrived at Cariboo Mountain on Sept. 8, 1870. Residents named the town after Jesse Fairchilds, better known as “Cariboo” Fairchilds, because of his work in the Cariboo mines in British Columbia. Most of the Cariboo Mountain mining camp burned down in 1885, and, sadly, it was never rebuilt. Even though very few structures remain, visitors can still explore the mining ruins.

Chesterfield Ghost Town

When exploring the numerous ghost towns of Idaho, you can often sense a peculiar and eerily spooky feeling. After all, that’s why they’re called “ghost” towns! Yet in spite of its title as an abandoned settlement, Chesterfield is surprisingly peaceful. Visiting this place is an experience unlike any other ghost town. Walking through the restored log cabins, constructed in 1881, you can feel a profound connection to the past and appreciate all of the care that went into creating this beloved community during its peak years.

Embark on an unforgettable journey back in time when you explore Chesterfield – the one-of-a-kind, forgotten town of Idaho. Come experience its captivating charm and be mesmerized by its alluring atmosphere!Venture through the past and explore a hidden gem in the Portneuf River Valley- Chesterfield. This historical city lies between Lava Hot Springs and Soda Springs on the Oregon Trail, allowing you to step back in time with its charming atmosphere.

In 1881, Mormon settlers chose to establish the town without prompting from Church authorities – a decision that was unique among many other Mormon settlements of the time.

Wickahoney Ghost Town Ruins

Idaho’s southwest corner is the perfect paradise for anyone seeking untamed beauty, from endless stretches of sagebrush and breathtaking basalt canyons. But in this region lies a forgotten secret — Wickahoney, an abandoned town that hides many stories within its ruins.

Although it may not seem so today, Wickahoney was once a flourishing stop along the route from Mountain Home, Idaho to Mountain City, Nevada. This path served as an important supply line for the mines in northern Nevada and saw many lively travelers pass through its quaint little station.

Thousands of adventurers traveled to Idaho dreaming of finding their fortune in the state’s booming mining industry. From these humble beginnings, entire towns were built – however, many eventually failed as miners moved on once gold and silver had been extracted from the ground. Today, all that remains are ghost towns like this one – testament to a bygone era when individuals risked everything for potential riches. Once a busy waypoint between booming mining settlements, Wickahoney is now nothing but crumbling remains left to the relentless march of time and nature.

Burke Ghost Town Wallace Idaho A True Mining Community

Take a short drive from the well-known town of Wallace a true mining community in North Idaho and you’ll find Burke Ghost Town. Although the Burke Road canyon has been declared polluted by the EPA, it remains a spectacular sight to behold. Unfortunately, some locals still call this place home despite its hazardous condition.

The ruins of this deserted town are absolutely remarkable. The structures still stand proud, and it’s easy to envision the city alive with activity in its heyday.Despite its quietness, the town of Burke is burdened by a painful past. Founded in 1887, it has endured immense grief throughout its existence.Through all of the trials and tribulations, such as labor disputes between miners and mine owners to natural disasters like avalanches or fires, Burke was a resilient town that endured for nearly one hundred years. Though only a few people live in this area today, visiting its picturesque ruins is an experience filled with reflection on days gone by.

Tips For Exploring Idaho Ghost Towns

When exploring the backcountry of Idaho it’s always a good idea to pack the 10 essentials and make sure you’re ready for an unexpected night over. You’ll likely have no cell service in these areas so getting help can take some time.

  • When visiting Idaho’s ghost towns, remember to bring water, snacks, sunscreen, and a first aid kit. 
  • Ghost towns usually consist of rough terrain, so wear hiking or athletic shoes. 
  • Keep an eye on the little ones, kids and pets, as there can be some unmarked hazards around these old buildings
  • Most importantly, have a blast and get your eyes on these treasures before they’re gone.

You may also enjoy: 45 Idaho Hot Springs Maps and Guides ​​10 Unforgettable Fire Lookout Rentals in Idaho 11 Incredible Day Trips From Boise, Idaho

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Moscow’s urban legends: Ghosts, mutant rats under the Metro

Construction of Fonvizinskaya metro station on the Lyublinsko-Dmitriyevskaya Line in Moscow

Construction of Fonvizinskaya metro station on the Lyublinsko-Dmitriyevskaya Line in Moscow

Among the world's most famous urban legends is about alligators allegedly living in New York City's sewer system. The Russians do not lag behind the Americans in terms of the popular imagination. Some see giant rats in the metro, while others talk about ghosts and the "mutagenic radiation" of the Ostankino television tower.

The mysteries of the metro

When it comes to rumours about the Moscow subway , truth is closely intertwined with fiction. Even officials do not deny that there are classified military and government lines under the capital – the so-called "Metro-2.”

That there are classified military and government lines under the capital – the so-called "Metro-2” – is not denied even by some officials. Photo: Construction of Fonvizinskaya metro station on the Lyublinsko-Dmitriyevskaya Line in Moscow. Source: Vitaliy Belousov/RIA Novosti

Enthusiasts have, however, been unsuccessfully trying to find more accurate information for years. Is there one line there or an entire system? Or is there an underground city for 15,000 people? Typical for an urban legend, there are a thousand versions of this story. They are united by an aura of secrecy and danger.

"It was really scary to hear the sound of tarpaulin boots near the alleged entrance to Metro-2," said Konstantin, one of Moscow’s community of “diggers,” or enthusiasts who explore subterranean bunkers, wells, tunnels and other facilities. "Is it still guarded by the KGB men, or something?"

Another Moscow resident claims her digger friend was allegedly shot at by special services while searching for Metro-2. The difficult-to-verify stories by the diggers about their adventures at the closed facility add to people's curiosity.

"My grandmother told me about Metro-2 in my childhood, and then about mutant rats," recalls Moscow resident Valeria. In the 1990s, tabloids publicized stories about giant rats living in the tunnels.

So could Splinter from " Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles " find company in the Moscow catacombs? "It's all science: Radiation from rocks must cause mutations in rats," says Pavel, also from Moscow. "But they live in technical rooms, so you can't see them."

Skeptics say that the crying comes from late-working employees of the Tunisian embassy: the commissar's house is now occupied by a diplomatic mission. Source: Lori/Legion-Media

On the surface

Not only are the underground bunkers of the Soviet elite shrouded in legend, but also fairly earthly structures, such as the home of Lavrenty Beria, the USSR People's Commissar for State Security and Stalin's right-hand man.

During interrogation in 1953, Beria confessed to abducting and raping dozens of women, but the authenticity of these papers is still being debated (Beria was removed by Khrushchev in a power struggle, and the documents could have been falsified after the execution of this dangerous rival).

But the image of the sadistic Beria was firmly imprinted on the popular mind, and his house in Moscow is surrounded by dark rumours. Allegedly, an invisible car rolls on Malaya Nikitskaya Ulitsa at midnight, with its old motor rumbling. Footsteps are heard, and Beria's ghost comes to his house for violent pleasures: curious pedestrians will soon even hear a woman crying from behind the walls.

Skeptics will say that the crying comes from late-working employees of the Tunisian embassy (the commissar's house is now occupied by a diplomatic mission), but this version is much more boring, even though probably the truth.

Napoleonic soldiers and a 500-year-old witch

It is not only the city centre where legends abound.

Many people believe that hundreds of soldiers from Napoleon’s army were buried in the hills of Peredelkino, a holiday village in the outskirts of Moscow, in 1812. Paranormal enthusiasts imbue the mounds with mystical qualities, believing that electronics go haywire and travellers disappear there.

The 500-year-old witch is believed to have predicted the high-profile murder of well-known TV journalist Vlad Listyev and a fire at Ostankino in 2000. Photo: A lightning over the Ostankino TV tower in Moscow. Source: Denis Murin/RIA Novosti

In reality, however, it is likely that there are no mass graves there.

"After the difficult war with Napoleon, peasants saw its echoes everywhere, so this is an old myth," researchers of the Museum of Moscow told RIR. "In the 19th century, archaeologists excavated Slavic mounds from the 10 th and 11 th centuries. But the inhabitants of the surrounding villages still considered them to be the graves of French soldiers."

The Ostankino neighbourhood, where Europe's highest TV tower is located, is also mythologized. It is allegedly haunted by the ghost of an old woman, who was murdered in the 16 th century. Now she walks around and predicts disasters.

The 500-year-old witch is believed to have predicted the high-profile murder of well-known TV journalist Vlad Listyev and a fire at Ostankino in 2000. Sometimes these stories are complemented by vivid details – for example, the furniture in Listyev's office was allegedly gnawed after his death by animals, mutated by the tower's radiation.

Then there are less bloody rumours: for example, one about a bulldozer embedded by builders in the TV centre's building by mistake. Yana Sidorova, the author of a study about the legends of Ostankino, says the TV centre's staff do not really believe in these sorts of stories, but are quite happy to spread them.

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  1. Bodie, a ghost town in the Bodie Hills, east of the Sierra Nevada moun

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

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  3. Bodie State Historic Park, Ghost Town in the Bodie Hills, Mono Stock

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

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  5. 11 Best Things To See In Bodie Ghost Town

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

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  2. Driving to Bodie ghost town 1/4/24

  3. GHOST TOWN OF BODIE CALIFORNIA

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  5. Bodie: The Ghost Town Frozen in Time

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COMMENTS

  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. Bodie, California

    Bodie ( / ˈboʊdiː / BOH-dee) is a ghost town in the Bodie Hills east of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Mono County, California, United States. It is about 75 miles (121 km) southeast of Lake Tahoe, and 12 mi (19 km) east-southeast of Bridgeport, [6] at an elevation of 8,379 feet (2554 m). [1]

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    Bodie State Historic Park, home to California's official ghost town and one of the most popular state parks, lies in the center of the Bodie Hills.

  4. 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.

  5. Bodie SHP: The Ghost Town in the Sierra Nevada Mountains

    Located high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains stands a ghost town frozen in time. The buildings and artifacts contained in them remain as they did when the last of the residents vacated the town of Bodie, now a state historic park. Visitors can walk down the deserted streets of a town that once had a population of nearly 10,000 people.

  6. 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.

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

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

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

    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.

  9. Bodie State Historic Park

    It is the best-preserved ghost town in California, with about 200 structures remaining (about 5% of its original glory), along with rusted-out cars and machinery and boarded-up mines. Many of...

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

    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 ...

  11. A History Of Bodie America's Most Notorious Ghost Town

    A History of Bodie, America's Most Notorious Ghost Town Deanna Morgado 30 May 2023 Bodie 's story began in 1859, after the major Gold Rush period in California. When four prospectors struck gold in a small valley 75 miles southeast of Lake Tahoe.

  12. Visit Bodie Ghost Town in Mono County

    History: Bodie is a ghost town in the Bodie Hills east of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Mono County Bodie began as a mining camp of little note following the discovery of gold in 1859 by a group of prospectors, including W. S. Bodey.

  13. The History and Geology of the Bodie Ghost Town

    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.

  14. 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.

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

    A kitchen fire in the summer of 1892 destroyed much of town to the west of main street. The Bodie Stamp Mill. By the 1890 hydraulic machinery bought a little more growth to Bodie, but by 1932 another fire wiped out most of the town (started by a cheeky three-year-old. See below). The last person left in the 1940s.

  16. Bodie, A California Ghost Town and mine site

    Bodie, California is the ghost town by which all others are judged. Located at 8300 in the Bodie Hills above Mono Lake, Bodie is the largest and perhaps best preserved ghost town in America. Established as a ghost town and state park in 1962, the town site is now administered by the Bodie Foundation. Currently preserved in "Arrested Decay ...

  17. Ghost Towns of America: Bodie, California

    Ghost Towns of America: Bodie, California. Located in the Bodie Hills, the once prosperous mining town of Bodie, California has been considered a ghost town since 1915. Bodie is a ghost town located in the Bodie Hills of Mono County, in the US state of California. The location of the town is 75 miles southeast of Lake Tahoe and 12 miles east ...

  18. Bodie: The Ghostliest of Ghost Towns

    Nestled in the Bodie Hills, about five and a half miles from the California-Nevada state line as the crow flies, the former Old West town of Bodie owes much of its authenticity to its remoteness. It's a six-hour drive north from Downtown Los Angeles, a dozen or more miles off the 395 down a paved road that turns into dirt and is seasonally ...

  19. [4K] Bodie

    Bodie is a ghost town in the Bodie Hills east of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Mono County, California, United States about 75 miles (121 km) southeast...

  20. Is Bodie CA worth visiting?

    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.

  21. List of ghost towns in Kansas

    Politics - In Kansas, the political atmosphere was highly divided. Towns were either pro-slavery or abolitionist. When Kansas became a free state in 1861, pro-slavery towns died out. Survival of a town also depended on if it won the county seat. Towns that were contenders for the county seat and lost typically saw most, if not all, of their ...

  22. 11 Creepy Idaho Ghost Towns You'll Never Forget

    If you're looking for a creepy ghost town with a lot of character Warren is for you. Warren established itself as a gold mining district on July 22, 1862. From 1866 to 1868, Warren was the most prosperous mining town in Northern Idaho. Then, in 1874, Chinese miners dominated the mining industry and further developed Warren until 1876.

  23. Moscow's urban legends: Ghosts, mutant rats under the Metro

    It is allegedly haunted by the ghost of an old woman, who was murdered in the 16 th century. Now she walks around and predicts disasters. The 500-year-old witch is believed to have predicted the ...

  24. See the frozen ghost towns near Vorkuta, Russia

    The town of Vorkuta was an infamous Gulag labor camp from the 1930s to 1960s, with prisoners forced to mine the region for coal. A room inside an abandoned building in a village near the coal ...