Arrested Decay: Life in a Ghost Town

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My friend and I took a long weekend to go explore the eastern side of the Sierra Nevadas. I had wanted to go to Bodie the ghost town for years. Read about our drive over and other sites on my related post.

Bodie was about an hour from Mammoth Lakes. From the main highway, Bodie is a 12-mile drive east. The last 2-3 miles are dirt and gravel. There are no services in Bodie, so it’s best to fill up on gas in Lee Vining to the south or Bridgeport to the north. There is water available at the museum/gift shop, but I don’t think it’s kept cold.  There are also bathrooms that are pretty decent at the main parking area and some porta-potty/outhouses somewhere in town. It’s $8 per person to get in-cash only! So be prepared for that. I highly recommend also getting the guide they sell at the entrance. It’s only $2 and it helps you know that you are looking at as you walk around town. Also, there is no shade, so wear sunscreen. And it’s all dirt-wear comfy and appropriate shoes!


When we got to Bodie, we thought we’d be there for about an hour, maybe 2. We were there nearly 4 hours, and didn’t even see it all. It was incredible. Driving into Bodie was a bit eerie; you are in the middle of nowhere and then all of a sudden some old buildings appear. We got out, start walking, and read that in fact only about 5% of the structures are still standing. We quickly realized how big Bodie must have been in its day.


We started wandering around town, reading about the homes and buildings (JoLynn snapped hundreds of pictures while I read to her all about the building we were at). We loved looking in windows to see how things were left. It was so weird, it was like people just ran out and left their homes completely as they were. We recognized some popular food labels (like Campbell’s soup!) and other items. By far, my favorite was the old school house. There was still writing on the chalkboard!! People are not allowed in the buildings any longer, which I didn’t really mind except at the school house, I would have loved to go in there.


We walked around for about 2 hours then took a small break in the car to get food, water, and some shade. Then we went back to the museum and got some gifts, and walked around a bit more and took more photos. Then we headed up to the cemetery. This had great views of town since it’s up on a hill. As we walked around we noticed how many young children died, and how young people died in general. And there were several families that lost children within days of each other; likely due to some illness.

view from the cemetery

After the cemetery, we headed back down to the parking lot and ran into Bill and Joan! (Whose real names are John and Barb—at least we got the 1st letters right!). They were visiting Bodie too before heading down to Joshua Tree the next day. We gave them some tips of touring the town and took a photo with them.

John and Barb from Indiana!

Bodie was an incredible place. I am so glad that I went! I didn’t know what to expect. It was so much bigger than I thought, and honestly, more interesting. I knew it would be neat, but I’d go back again for sure. The area around it was beautiful, and maybe it was the amazing weather we had while there, but I really enjoyed walking around town. I highly highly recommend that you see it!


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