Book your Fall stays early!!

855-648-JUNE (5863)
Bodie Ghost Town

Bodie is California’s official state gold rush ghost town, and the best and most well-preserved ghost town in America.

Ghost towns are time travel portals for our imaginations. In the west ghost towns attract those of us who played cowboys as kids, or read Zane Grey or Louis L’Amour, or watched Gunsmoke or The Lone Ranger on TV. We visualized a gunfight at high noon, or riding off into the sunset after saving the town from outlaws. Ghost towns are full of relics and remains from which to conjure up these old storylines. And for us, Bodie, California is at the real epicenter of our imaginations.

bodie ghost town church

An Authentic Ghost Town

Bodie, California is a town out in the middle of nowhere, just north of Mono Lake, and is the most authentic ghost town in the country. It’s so famous, they built a state park around the town. It had in its heyday all the elements of a good Western. There was a bank, a jail, a cemetery, saloons and a couple churches. There were main characters like the  sheriff, a banker, stagecoach driver, a minister, many miners and yes, a few prostitutes. It all started in ’49 gold rush of course. Gold fever swept the whole Sierra Nevada Mountain range, and Bodie on its eastern slope as miners came with dreams of striking it rich. 

Lonely and windswept now, in its heyday, from 1878 to 1882, over 10,000 people populated Bodie and inhabited about 800 buildings. Now only 100 buildings remain standing in a state of “arrested decay”. Many of the buildings were destroyed in a large fire in 1932. By then the town was already declining due to mine closings, prohibition and the depression. The fire seemed to push the last remaining people out. Because people left in a hurry, there are many personal items left which make this town so interesting.  By 1943 only three people remained in Bodie. 

But the memories of its former infamous population remained. One girl whose family was moving to Bodie wrote “Goodbye God, we are going to Bodie”. This was a swinging and high-rolling bad town. Miners came from nearby Nevada and Mexico, and there was a large population of Chinese. 
Bodie had a Wells Fargo Bank, daily newspapers, miners union, red light district, a jail, and about 65 saloons and the reputation of being one of the meanest mining towns in the west. Today, their ghosts aren’t all that pleasant either.

The Ghosts of Bodie

There was a well known hooker Rosa May who was labeled “hooker with a heart of gold”. She supposedly died tending sick miners with pneumonia. There was the Cain family who ended up owning most of the property in Bodie. J.S Cain moved to Bodie at 25, struck it rich, then built an  empire. Dan McMillan was a one armed sheriff who also managed the baseball team. Mary McDonnell was the first ‘Post Mistress’ and the post office is still one of the remaining buildings. Most of the buildings are named after the families who lived there.
Bodie was not all bad however, there where two churches in town, Catholic and Methodist, with the first service in 1888. The last church service was held in 1932. Visitors these days leave money in the church, which seems to go untouched behind fencing. It blows somewhat eerily in the breeze all over the church floor. 

A Ghost Town with a Curse

The curse or attempts to gain good luck, may be reasons visitors leave money. However, whatever you do, do not take ANYTHING from Bodie. It is widely known that if you take even a pebble, bad luck and misfortune and a few ghosts will follow you till the item is returned. This is the “Curse of Bodie.” Some say this is just a way for the staff to get people to leave the property alone, but there are many accounts where people actually return items they took on a previous visit, with sincere apologies in hopes of getting relief from the curse. 

bodie ghost town 1
Bodie State Park was founded around the ghost town in 1962, and receives over 200,000 visitors a year. Summer hours are 9am to 6pm and winter hours are 9am to 3pm, or whatever happens to be posted. Closures are strictly enforced. During winter months the road may be closed and only accessible by snowmobiles or snow shoes. Bodie is well worth the 13 mile round trip off of HWY 395. There is a self guided booklet tour available as well as mine tour led by the parks staff on certain weekends.  There is the Bodie Ghost Walk and Star stories that sell out quickly in the summer. Please remember this is a true ghost town; there is no place to buy water or food. Learn more about Bodie, CA at the following weblinks.

Accommodations in Bodie, CA.

Unless you’re one of the resident ghosts, there are no accommodations in Bodie. So head to June Lake just down the road. Our small town offers plenty of “home town” accommodations including vacation homes and vacation condos. All rentals are very clean and well maintained, very affordable, and all are close to Gull Lake and June Lake. Many are pet friendly vacation rentals. Are you looking for a romantic weekend or an extended stay with family, friends or maybe even a ghost? Or are you hoping to catch a lunker Brown trout, go skiing on June Mountain, or test your skills on the hiking trails? Whatever your vacation desires may be, let us help you book a June Lake vacation that will keep you coming back years from now. Call us today, or book online.
Also remember, do NOT pick-up and take anything from Bodie, not even a pebble.

© 2017

Skip to content