Bodie State Historic Park is located off of Highway 395 between the towns of Lee Vining and Bridgeport, California. Once you leave 395 it is 13 miles to Bodie. Ten of those miles are paved and 3 are dirt roads with washboards that make it impossible to drive over 15 miles an hour. The road isn’t plowed in the winter, so be sure and check with the park before attempting the drive. The hours vary by season and currently it costs $8 a person to enter Bodie. Dogs are permitted in the park as long as they are on a leash, however, they are not allowed on the Mill Tour. There is plenty of parking and flush toilets in the parking lot.
Dylan and I went to Bodie one afternoon in July. We were prepared for it to be hot, however, even though it was extremely bright the temperature was only in the low 80’s. We had Jinx with us and she was able to walk around on all the dirt trails without her paws getting too hot. When we paid our entrance fee the ranger offered us a walking guide of the park for $2. We purchased the guide and we used it to take a walking tour of Bodie.
The History of Bodie
Gold was first found in Bodie in 1859 by W.S. Bodey. Mining was slow in Bodie until 1875 when a mine collapsed and exposed a large load of gold ore. Bodie continued growing. 1877-1881 were Bodie’s peak years with it’s largest population. Historians estimate that there were between 7,000 and 8,000 full-time residences. Mining continued in Bodie until 1942 and in 1962 California State Parks purchased the town to preserve it. Currently, about 5% of all the buildings are still standing.
Bodie’s Only Standing Church
There is only one church left standing in Bodie. It is a Methodist Church that was built in 1882. There was a Catholic Church also built-in 1882, but unfortunately, it burned down in 1928. I was able to walk up the stairs and take a peek inside. All things considered, it looks like it’s still in good shape. The pews and an organ are still inside along with a whole lot of dust.
Living In Bodie
J.S. Cain was the last major landowner in Bodie. When he left Bodie he hired caretakers to watch over the town and to prevent looting. His house is still standing on the corner of Green and Park Street. During Bodie’s boom years there were 30 different mines, saloons, laundry service, boarding houses and one school.
Bodie’s original schoolhouse was burned down by a student. After the fire, the school moved to the Bon Ton Lodging House. During its peak, there were 615 students enrolled. The school was used until 1942. Take a peek through the windows and you will see chalkboards, maps, and desks.
The 5% of the remaining buildings give a good glimpse into Bodie’s past. There are remains of the jail, post office, fire department and a few general stores. Walking down the dirt streets looking at the old buildings it was easy to pretend we were in an old western movie.
Whoa Nellie Deli
After leaving Bodie we drove to Lee Vining to eat at a gas station. Even though people say they are eating gas station food Whoa, Nellie Deli isn’t really in a gas station, but it shares a parking lot with a Mobile Gas Station. I had stopped at Whoa Nellie Deli with Sally on our way home from backpacking in Yosemite. Their food is delicious. Because of COVID, seating inside the restaurant is closed, but there is plenty of seating outside at picnic tables on the lawn. We ordered their famous fish tacos and June Lake Brown Ale, but because we had Jinx with us we took our food to go and we ate across the street on the grass with a view of Mono Lake. It was the perfect ending to a fun day.