"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood... And sorry I could not travel both. I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." --Robert Frost

Friday, May 20, 2022

The Amazing Ghost Town of Bodie - CA

Walker, California
Bootleg NF Campground

We used to come up to the Walker River a couple of times a year just to fish.  It's been a few years since we've been back and we were looking forward to a nice break.  Bootleg Campground is a National Forest campground that sits at almost 6500' in the Carson Iceberg-Wilderness right on the beautiful Hwy 395 which winds along the Walker River and the border of Nevada.
It's much cooler at this elevation (6430 feet) so it's only open between May and October, depending on snow.  This National Forest campground is beautifully nestled in the pines.  It's $24 a night with no electric, several threaded water spigots throughout and bathrooms.  Steve now has his Lifetime Senior Pass and this is the first time we got to use it.  1/2 off on camping!  There are about 60 sites.  The road, campground loops and sites are paved.  Most are long and there are plenty that will fit big rigs like ours.  This was the first weekend for the season and they were still cleaning the pine needles off the roads.  You are in bear territory so keep your sites clean and use the bear-proof dumpsters.  The first week we practically had the place to ourselves.
Site #31.  We have found that all over the country there are more and more cell towers.  This canyon has added a few as well.  There used to be no signal from Gardnerville, NV down to Bridgeport, CA, but now you get signal all the way except a tiny part of the deep canyon, where this campground sits.  Amazingly, even though our phones barely gave us a slight connection of unusable signal, we were able to boost it up to 2 bars and Steve could actually work!  We were amazed!  It's heaven up here.
We had sun to run our solar, gas for the genny, signal for Steve and a nice bottle of Moscato from the beautiful Italian Castle in Napa Valley, Castello di Amorosa, that my son and his girlfriend gave me for my birthday.  It's going to be a nice couple of weeks!
Other than relaxing, we plan to visit Bodie Ghost Town, June Lake near Mammoth, Mono Lake and do some fishing of course.  On the way to Bodie we drove through the only "bigger" town in the area.  Wow, things are expensive here in Bridgeport!
(prices were as of 5/20/22.  Today, 6/22/22, diesel is around $8.69!)  Hopefully we won't need gas!
It's about 12 1/2 miles off Hwy 395 to get to Bodie.  It's paved except the last few miles.  All sage covered hills with views of the Eastern Sierras.
Here's Bodie Ghost Town coming into view.
It's been years since we've been here so it was fun to see it again.  Plus we ran out of time last time and we didn't get to see the cemetery.
Bodie is one of the largest, best preserved, original ghost towns.  It is truly amazing!
After discovering gold here in1859, how sad was it that W.S. Bodie froze to death in that same year in a snowstorm before he could see the town built?
You'll see many old parts and machinery laying all over.
The Methodist Church is the only standing church left.
The inside was very basic.
Very few buildings had colored paint.
Inside of the barn.  You cannot go inside any of the buildings, but you can look.
One of the fancier homes.
Peeking through the window.
The huge stamp mill.  They say that the sounds of blasting, drilling and stamping that went on 24/7 were deafening.
You are only allowed to walk around the mill if you sign up for a tour.

The old wood siding is warping and falling away from years of heat, snow and winds that can gust to 100mph.  Temps can range between 18 in the winter and 74 in the summer up at 8,379 feet of elevation.
There are some fancy sheets of tin used on some of the buildings as decorative touches or sometimes just patches.
This lucky pooch has quite the dog house.
Old parts make for some great photo ops.
Reflection of the schoolhouse.
Inside the schoolhouse you can see an old globe, desks, books, etc.

Loved this old restored truck parked in front of the gas station.

Most of the buildings that are left are in pretty good shape while others are sagging, leaning or have fallen down completely.

Inside the hotel/saloon you can see so many interesting things.  Most things were left as-is.

Original telephone poles.

We noticed some roofs have been redone since we were here last.

It's almost more fun looking at all the scraps scattered about than the buildings themselves.
Steve taking a little break.

I liked the unusual yellow that was painted on the door and some windows.
I wonder what this little door in the wall was for?

We finished our day hiking through the cemetery.  We wanted to find where Bodie was buried.  The cemetery is on a hillside so there's quite a bit of hiking to see it all.
Many different types of headstones.  Some fairly fancy for the time.  It is believed that Little Evelyn died when she was accidently hit in the head with a pick-axe and that her ghost still roams around.
Leave it to the Italians to have this beautiful blue marble headstone.

See the ridge in the far distance?  There is one headstone up there.  You can't see it in the picture and there is no trail, but you know I had to see it!  So off we went.  It surely must be Bodie himself with a grand view of the town below.  Plus there is a geocache up there.
It was pretty warm out and Hurley was thankful for the only shade.  Well, it wasn't Bodie. 
From Find-a-Grave:

Warren Loose gained fame locally for his lawsuit against Leland Stanford, of Stanford University, over the colt from a race horse. When he fell ill, he consulted several doctors. All of them recommended he have all his teeth pulled, as they were rotted and poisoning his body. He refused. Before he died, he scouted around for a place to be buried, finally deciding on the summit of Foundry Hill, overlooking the town of Bodie. He wanted a spot where everyone entering or leaving town could see his grave marker.  He was the owner of the Bodie Syndicate Gold Mine.
Looking down from the ridge at the cemetery.
While up there we spotted one more grave even further up so we continued our hike.  While the wood fence appears fairly new, there is no marker.  When we got back down later I asked a ranger about it and she said they don't actually know who's buried there.  We did get to see some deer enjoying the beautiful mountain views before they hopped away.
Watch them hippity hop in a line.  So funny!
Once back down we rechecked the cemetery and Steve found Mr. Bodie.  He now has a nice marker.

One last picture of the town as viewed from the cemetery.  We brought a lunch and spent 1/2 a day here.
On the way back to camp, Steve finding a clever geocache hidden out here along 395 with a working telephone.

The next day was the warmest so we saved that to do a little fishing on the Walker River across from our camp.  A 1-Day out-of-state fishing license was $17.  Not bad really.  We know it's generally not good fishing this time of year and we didn't expect to catch anything, but it's a beautiful way to spend the day.  Hiking up and around the boulders, through the trees and brush just enjoying the peace. On the upside, it's not warm enough to bring out the snakes yet.
There wasn't much snowfall in the Sierra's this year but the water was still flowing fast and it's still a bit murky.  That means very little fishable water.  We had to really work to find even the smallest run or eddy.  But what's that saying?  "The worst day fishing is better than the best day working."  So true!
I even caught a dinker.  A small Rainbow.  Not even pan-size, so back he went.  At least one of us didn't get skunked! ;-)

The wildfires in the past few years have really done a number around here.  New fires have burnt a lot of the forest right down to the river.  Even though our campground is nicely treed, the fire came down right to the upper loop and many huge pines have been removed.  I'm so glad it remained mostly untouched.
The upper part of the canyon is all burned above.
Our first week is over.  Since we are staying closer to home this year we thought it might be boring or difficult to find things to do or explore.  So far, happy to say that is not the case.


  1. What a well preserved ghost town! Will need to put this on my to-do list (if Les ever changes his mind about traveling to CA). I luv exploring these types of places. Thanks fior sharing.

  2. You guys sure find some very beautiful and unique places. Great pics.
    Safe travels!

    1. Thanks. There’s some cool things to see out here.

  3. Incredible! Those are some beautiful spots. Love that you got out fishing!

    1. We can’t wait to go back in a couple weeks. Water should be perfect!

  4. I thought I'd commented on this post but must have dreamt it! Bodie is such a great ghost town, maybe the best, and you got wonderful pics. Love the B&W of the window!! We really do have to get back to this area :-)

    1. It really is! Nice to go see it again after so many years!


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