A Gay Couple’s Adventure at Ghost Town Bodie State Historic Park, California, USA – You know it already that we love adventures off the beaten tracks. To find those hidden gems in and around Yosemite National Park, we talked to all the friendly Americans we met during our America Road Trip. The special tip for a special place came from Peter, a bearded ranger at Yosemite Lake Resorts, just outside the West Gate of Yosemite National Park. He suggested the most photogenic Ghost Town of the Wild West in California,, called Bodie at Bodie State Historic Park. The abandoned town located in the Bodie Hills east of the Sierra Nevada mountain range tells a long story about how the first Americans reached the Gold Rush area in Mono County. After a boom time in the 19th century, the city went down and creates nowadays a very photogenic destination for a one-day trip from Yosemite National Park or Lake Tahoe.
Once it was a boomtown in the Wild West where enthusiastic settlers from all over Europe found Gold and a new home. Within a few decades, Bodie transformed into a Ghost Town and became a registered California Historical Landmark where the Bodie Foundation is preserving the historical heritage until now. While spending a whole day exploring the unique abandoned settlement, we got a realistic impression due to obtained 170 wooden houses, partially complete stuffed stores, saloons, and even a school. This part of American history makes Bodie a must-see for a USA bucket list. For us, it was a perfect one-day gay travel during our one-month Road Trip to South West of the USA. Join us on our photo tour around a real American Ghost Town of the Wild West right at the gates of Yosemite National Park and see the Bodie State Historic Park through a couple of men‘s eyes.
The Methodist Church at Bodie State Historic Park
We left Yosemite National Park entering Highway US-395 in a northwestern direction. After passing by Mono Lake, the road went up and downhill until an intersection at Dog Town. Here we took a right turn driving through a treeless and dry landscape for another approximately 20 minutes. Be aware that the last 4.8 kilometers are actually gravel roads (no, you don’t need a 4×4 for that). The road ends right before Bodie town at a small gate and a friendly guy gave us a map and our entrance tickets for a fee of 8 US $ per adult. Parking right next to the entrance to the town is free. Equipped with our camera, something to drink, and a town map, we started our exploration by visiting one of the landmarks of Bodie, The Methodist Church built in 1882. Don’t miss taking a look inside. It was very fascinating to start walking through this town thinking that no one was actually living there anymore, besides the caretaker.
Abandoned Houses of the Ghost Town Bodie
We took our time to walk around every wooden and stone house in the town. We could even go inside some of them and see the furniture and equipment of a 19th-century American Wild West house. Although the whole area of Bodie State Historic Park is protected and nothing is allowed to be removed or collected, you are allowed to take as many photos as you want and to collect some unforgettable memories instead. If you have time, close your eyes for a moment and imagine a busy town that started with a mining camp after gold was found in 1859 and had its boom time from 1877 to the late 1880s. And if you just imagine that the mines of Bodie produced almost US $34 Million over the years and that Bodie had a population of more than 7000 people with 2000 buildings, the Gold Rush town Bodie must have been lively and a crowded Wild West Metropole in that time. But what comes with wealth and greed for more? Correct, unfortunately, envy, drugs, violence, and crime. And so, the decline of Bodie begun in 1912.
Part of our one-month Road Trip around the South Western part of the United States of America was a 5-day stay right in the middle of the World Heritage Site Yosemite National Park. We booked an extraordinary accommodation, a hill-side Yurt at Yosemite Lakes Resort at the west gate of Yosemite. The fully equipped Glamping Yurt offered a great view of the valley and was a comfortable close-to-nature base for our daily explorations, for example to the Bodie Hills.
Original Grocery Store & Gasoline Stop of Bodie
Although it started in the early 20th century already, there are still plenty of remnants throughout the whole town. Like a fully stuffed grocery store and the Bodie Gasoline Stop with an original Dodge Graham in front of it. It gave us the feeling of visiting a part of American history showing us, how fast-paced American Society changed in just a couple of decades. Fascinating how well-preserved the Post Office of Bodie is still part of the town, especially when you think that already in 1920 only 120 inhabitants were left in Bodie. Until Bodie State Historic Park in California was established in 1962, there have been still caretakers of the Ghost Town of Brodie, that had to protect the 170 remaining buildings from vandalism. By the way, the settlement was named after William S. Bodey, who first found gold in 1859 in the Bodie of today. After he died in a snowstorm, his family named the settlement Bodie, after changing the spelling to avoid mispronunciation.
Bodie Saloon with Billiard Tabel & Roulette
No, those are no nostalgic pictures of Bodie from 50 years ago. We took all those photos you find in this blog article about our one-day trip to Bodie ourselves. Even those from the saloons. Although Bodie had 65 saloons at its boom time, you can still see two saloons, one with a roulette table and drinks in the back and one with a pool table and an oven. Good that we went to Las Vegas before, so we didn’t feel the urge to gamble. But even by looking at it, we could imagine how it might have looked like when it was crowded with gambling prospectors. What a special atmosphere surrounded us and the original wooden houses of Bodie during our visit.
The United States of America, still known as the land of boundless opportunities, is a varied destination for outdoor fans exploring the sea, mountains, and diverse cultural attractions in its 50 states on the North American continent. From New York over Chicago, Florida, and California: Read all about our USA Gay Travels!
The fully equipped School of Bodie
Even the school of Bodie looked like back in the Wild West days of America. Old schoolbooks, a labeled blackboard, a piano, and several items from the daily routine of an American school can be found when you look through the dirty windows of the building. The winters in Bodie have been very cruel and cold with a lot of snow. Good to know, that the Winter opening hours from November 1st to March 17th are from 9 am to 4 pm, thus two hours shorter than during Summer (March 18th to October 31st: 9 am-6 pm). But is it worth a visit when you only have two opening hours left? In our opinion, yes, since the main part of Bodie is easily walkable, even for such a short time. If you want to see everything and take photos of the Ghost Town, you better plan some hours more.
Dinner at Virginia Creek Settlement Restaurant
As you can imagine, a whole day outside in the summer weather of California makes you hungry. After we left Bodie State Historic Park, we stopped at the Virginia Creek Settlement, which is not only a Restaurant but also a place where you can book your overnight stay in a Motel and on a campground. The next bigger town from Bodie and the Settlement are Bridgetown with a gas station, shops, and restaurants just 5 km away. We preferred not to make it that far and the restaurant in a Wild Western style with lots of historical photos and furniture looked very inviting. So, we decided to get some good Wild West food at the Virginia Creek Settlement Restaurant. Daan as a vegetarian went for the Spaghetti with a locally made tomato sauce, while Karl chose the Virginia Creek Burger with an oven potato. Delicious especially combined with a local beer. Our tip for a trip to Bodie. More about Virginia Creek Settlement Restaurant >>
More Article of our Gay Travels to the South West of the USA:
- Read more about our one-month Road Trip South West USA >
- Hotel Tip Los Angeles: The Willow Apartment West Hollywood >
- Hotel Tip San Luis Obispo: Sycamore The Mineral Springs >
- Accommodation Tip Yosemite National Park: Yosemite Lakes Resort >
- Gay Pride Tip: Photo Story Castro Street Fair San Francisco >
Ghost Town Bodie State Historic Park in California
It was an unplanned adventure to explore the Ghost Town Bodie. But since we stayed for almost a week in Yosemite National Park, we had enough time to do this one-day trip to the Bodie Hills. The driving time is about 2 hours from Yosemite National Park to Tioga Pass Road and Lake Tahoe and 4.5 hours from Rachel, Nevada. Bodie as the “official state gold rush ghost town” should be on your bucket list for gay traveling the South Western part of the United States of America. Not only because of the great photo opportunities, but you’ll get to understand the young history of the Wild West of one of the most powerful countries in the world. Did you visit Bodie before? Let us know in a comment!
Karl & Daan.