Visiting Bodie, CA
Feeling a little restless in Reno? Sometimes we all need a day trip or weekend getaway to satisfy our inner wanderlust – and why not start with an amazing spot located in Reno’s backyard? It’s filled with rich with history and amazing sights – I’m referring to the intriguing Bodie, California. Follow along with me as I share more about this mysterious ghost town, and discover tips on how you can take a quick trip there, completely worth the short drive.
A Bit of Bodie’s Background
Bodie is not far at all from Reno, and it makes for a great outing whether you go solo or bring the whole family. Here’s what to expect:
Bodie started out as a small mining camp at the tail end of the California gold rush. In 1859, a group of prospectors set up here – among them, a man from New York named W. S. Bodey.
The camp he and his companions founded would go on to become a full-fledged town carrying his name. The now-standard spelling of “Bodie” is thought to come from an old misspelled sign for “Bodie Stables”. Unfortunately, Mr. Bodey died during a blizzard the year after he first arrived, so he never had a chance to correct the record.
In 1875, a massive ore deposit was discovered when part of a smaller mine caved in. A group of capitalists bought the claim and set up a company for industrial-scale mining. The massive profits they generated attracted miners from all over, and the town grew very quickly over the next several years. But the good fortune didn’t last long, and within a decade most fortune-seekers had abandoned the town for other opportunities.
Though a few stragglers remained for years, trying to eke out a living, Bodie became the west’s largest ghost town by the early 20th century. Today, what’s left of the town is recognized as a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior – and also as California Historical Landmark #341.
Exploring the Town
Bodie is frozen in time – a silent monument to the Wild West. Walking down the streets is like being transported over a century backwards. Only a small part of the town is left standing, but there are still over 100 buildings to check out, including one of the old gold mines.
There are plenty of old storefronts and other business to check out, still stocked with antique dry goods, alcohol, tools, and machinery. As tempting as it may be to take souvenirs, removing anything from the grounds is strictly against park rules.
The area around Bodie is also gorgeous (if you can find the beauty in scrubland), and makes for some great hiking opportunities. You’ll definitely want to bring plenty of bottled water, though, as the elevation is pretty high and the weather is usually quite sunny.
Note: To preserve the ghost-town atmosphere, there are no active shops on the Bodie State Historic Park grounds (though there are restrooms in the parking lot area). Make sure to carry enough food and water for the day.
Bodie isn’t too far from Reno – about three hours by car – and it makes for a great day trip or weekend getaway.
Just take US 395 south into California, following the highway for around 2 – 2.5 hours (assuming you leave from Reno). Eventually, you should see signs for CA-270 E. Turn left onto that road, and you’ll reach Bodie in ~30 minutes or so.
If you’re planning to stay in the area overnight, there are a handful of hotels within a few miles of Bodie – check out Virginia Creek Settlement for a budget option, or Ruby Inn Bridgeport for something a little fancier. There is no camping allowed on the park grounds, but it’s not terribly hard to find other campsites within a short driving distance.
Check out more photos of Bodie Ghost Town:
Looking for other interesting places to visit near Reno?
Check out this helpful Guide for Reno Residents and Visitors.