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4.5
94 votes

Bodie Historic Park

Bodie Rd., Lee Vining, California 93541 USA

Free
Free to Visit
  • Independent
  • Pet Friendly
  • Wheelchair Accessible
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“A town frozen in time”

Bodie State Historic Park is a genuine California gold-mining ghost town. Visitors can walk down the deserted streets of a town that once had a population of nearly 10,000 people. The town is named for Waterman S. Body (William Bodey), who had discovered small amounts of gold in hills north of Mono Lake. In 1875, a mine cave-in revealed pay dirt, which led to purchase of the mine by the Standard Company in 1877. People flocked to Bodie and transformed it from a town of a few dozen to a boomtown.

The town is widely known for it's curse on tourists who have decided to take an illegal souvenirs, a hex that many claim is the reason the town remains so untouched.

Because of this, the caretakers of the town receive a steady stream of mail containing trinkets like rusted nails, shoes, and even hot water heaters. 

"I believe in the hex," said park ranger Mark Pupich. "I don't dare take anything and neither should anybody else. I've seen enough letters, talked to enough people about what can happen. People take something, then have all this bad luck. There's been some really sad cases."

Here's a sample of the letters that have arrived:

"AHHHHH! Enough Already - here's your nail back - MERCY!''

"During holidays in 1990 we visited Bodie. We saw that nail on the ground and had the feeling we have to take it with us back to Germany. Now after these years of bad luck, we decided to send the nail back to the ghost town, in hope our luck comes back."

"I did something I've never done before. I took something from the land and buildings, pieces of bottles and some nails. Though I wasn't brought up this way, and taught my own children that stealing is wrong, I still did it myself. Since that last trip, we have experienced more tragedies and bad luck than anyone we know. I realize sending these things back won't rid us of any future misfortune, but hopefully they won't be so severe. Please accept my apology and for not practicing what I preached."

Bodie is an original mining town from the late 1800's. What's left today stands in a state of "arrested decay" and is maintained by the California State Parks System, who took over the town in 1962 to make it a State Historic Park.

In 1859 William (a.k.a. Waterman) S. Bodey discovered gold near what is now called Bodie Bluff. A mill was established in 1861 and the town began to grow. It started with about 20 miners and grew to an estimated 10,000 people by 1880! By then, the town of Bodie bustled with families, robbers, miners, store owners, gunfighters, prostitutes and people from every country in the world. At one time there was reported to be 65 saloons in town. Among the saloons were numerous brothels and 'houses of ill repute', gambling halls and opium dens - an entertainment outlet for everyone.

On a daily basis miners would emerge from the mills and head for the bars and the red light district to spend their earnings. The mixture of money, gold and alcohol would often prove fatal. Newspapers report that towns people would ask in the mornings "Have a man for breakfast?" Meaning 'Did anyone get killed last night?'

The town has been preserved in its state of arrested decay, meaning the buildings are kept to look like a ghost town. It looks much like it did long ago, with shelves still stocked, and even a gold mill is available for touring. Locals say the site attracts ghosts; many sightings have been reported all around the area.

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Reviewed by
diane.cormier

  • 1 Review
  • 4 Helpful
September 23, 2014

I found this place by accident while roaming around the west in 2013. Loved every part of it although the road in is so bumpy it would shake the teeth out of your head. I didn't know what would be at the end of that road but hoped it was worth the horrible ride in, and it was!

4 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
James Fisher

  • Road Warrior
  • 481 Reviews
  • 348 Helpful
February 18, 2013

If you want something to remember your trip to Bodie by, take pictures but don’t be tempted to take anything else. There is supposed to be a curse on it and bad luck will follow you if you take anything out of this ghost town.

4 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
bobosworld

  • 9 Reviews
  • 3 Helpful
July 29, 2015

So cool!!!!
We are driving to the bodie village by the south road! A few afraid to drive on an off-road to 12km in the deep of valley, cross one gas truck (20 mph -> 30minutes)
But so funny to do this with a 4WD!!
We arrive early to the village, few people and time to visit and take pictures!
5$ per person

3 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Lalia

  • 1 Review
  • 3 Helpful
May 9, 2015

Takes a bit to get there if you start on the western side of Yosemite, but well worth the trouble. Although they say you have bad luck if you take anything, we believe you have good luck if you buy a 'souvenir' mining core sample from the store/museum in the middle of town. That $10 dollars, which went to the fund to preserve the town,was well worth the memories.

3 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Aimee DeGroat

  • Road Warrior
  • 18 Reviews
  • 18 Helpful
August 12, 2014

Awesome ghost town but get there early because the pictures are better without a million tourists in them and this place fills up fast!

3 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
elidag1

  • 1 Review
  • 2 Helpful
August 3, 2016

Time has stopped. There are no power lines or street noises. Just gently tilting houses with windswept golden foothills.

2 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
knansteel

  • 14 Reviews
  • 2 Helpful
June 29, 2016

Really really cool- wish it wasn't so hot and that my kids had patience to wander longer but the history is fascinating and looking inside the building being left just as they were was amazing. I would love to go back one day by myself and just spend hours there!

2 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Steve Sandke

  • 3 Reviews
  • 2 Helpful
May 30, 2016

Wow. Just...wow. What an amazing, amazing experience. We arrived right as they opened, which I'd recommend doing if you can. We were first into the town, which meant that we had a good half hour of quiet exploration before the place began to get crowded.

2 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Susangraydon

  • 4 Reviews
  • 3 Helpful
November 22, 2015

About to embark on our 2nd trip to Bodie. May 2011 and with some younger family members in January 2016

2 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
rachnoelle

  • 2 Reviews
  • 2 Helpful
August 2, 2015

if you don't mind driving off road for a bit in the dirt go to this place! it's so interesting to look at and look inside the buildings to see what's left of it

2 people found this review helpful

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Bodie Historic Park

Bodie Rd.
Lee Vining, California
93541 USA

Hours not available

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  • Independent
  • Pet Friendly
  • Wheelchair Accessible
  • Private Parking
  • Free Parking

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