History and Culture

California Ghost Town, Bodie State Historic Park

Bodie is a ghost town in the Sierra Nevada mountains northeast of Yosemite. Today Bodie is a State Historical Park and landmark open to visitors.


Old Church in Bodie, California
Old Church in Bodie, CaliforniaPhoto courtesy of Mono County

Bodie is a ghost town in the Sierra Nevada mountains northeast of Yosemite National Park. Once a vibrant town of 10,000 residents, it is a state park, a California Historical Landmark and a National Historic Landmark.

Bodie began as a mining camp in 1859 during the Gold Rush. The area was a campsite for a group of gold prospectors, including W. S. Bodey. Mr. Bodey perished in a blizzard the following November while making a supply trip to Monoville (near present-day Mono City), never getting to see his namesake town.

According to area pioneer Judge J. G. McClinton, the district’s name was changed from “Bodey,” “Body” and a few other phonetic variations to “Bodie,” after a painter in the nearby boomtown of Aurora designed a sign “Bodie Stables.”

As a bustling gold mining center, Bodie had the amenities of larger towns, including a Wells Fargo Bank, four volunteer fire companies, a brass band, a railroad, miners’ and mechanics’ unions, several daily newspapers and a jail. At its peak, 65 saloons lined Main Street, which was a mile long. Murders, shootouts, barroom brawls and stagecoach holdups were regular occurrences.

The town’s population started to decline in 1880 as men left in search of other mining claims. In 1915, Bodie was declared a ghost town. Forty-six years later, it was declared a landmark. It became a state park in 1962 with 170 buildings remaining.

Today 110 structures are protected for visitors to experience and is funded by the Bodie Foundation. Enjoy the town on your own or take a guided tour. But to really learn about Bodie’s past, try to time your visit with the Bodie Ghost Walk and Star Stories nights that happen several evenings each summer. The ghost walk begins at the old church at 6 p.m. As you walk through town, you’ll hear stories that bring the ghost town to life. Mingle among spirits of the past. Things get really creepy for the 8 p.m. Exclusive Ghost Mill Tour of the 116-year-old Standard Mill. Follow the tour with a lesson about the universe overhead at a Star Stories talk that usually begins at 8:30 p.m. Get the details at Bodie State Historic Park’s website below.

For more information:
Download a brochure and map [pdf]
Website: www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=509

Summer hours 9 a.m.-6 p.m. (March 18 to Oct. 31)
Winter hours 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Nov. 1 to March 17)