If one is looking to explore an eerie and seemingly haunted Wild West ghost town, then consider the Californian ghost town of Bodie. See here for more things that you may not have heard about California's creepiest ghost town. Once this was one of California's largest booming towns, and yet today it stands deserted and curiosity of travelers. It has a captivating story that sends one's imagination wild and back to a time gone by.

Bodie is a perfect day trip if one is visiting Lake Tahoe, it is only around 75 miles southeast of Lake Tahoe. Like Lake Tahoe, it is right on the border with Nevada and so can be part of a cross-border experience.

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A Sort-Of Ghost Town Triangle

Looking for a Wild West experience? Then there are three very different options all within driving distance (two in Nevada and one in California).

Virginia City is an old Wild West town in Nevada just a short drive from Reno. While a shadow of its former self, it is now a living ghost town. Today it is a modern "ghost" town that preserves all the old buildings and the feel of the old times. Enjoy a beer at any one of its many saloons. See here for more information on visiting this old-timey ghost town.

A second ghost town is the city of Aurora in Nevada situated on the border of Nevada and California. This is a difficult ghost town to reach and it is better to reach it with a 4WD - at least if one is coming from Bodie. It is close to Bodie but is completely deserted and there is no visitor center or any organized attraction. There is almost nothing left and at first glance, one may not even notice there was once a city standing here. Today the most noticeable remaining legacy of this town is its eerily cemetery. It once numbered 10,000 people.

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Thirdly there's Bodie. Bodie is a state park in California on the border with Nevada very close to Aurora. It is something in between Aurora and Virginia City in how it feels today. Whereas Virginia City is a living ghost town and Aurora has almost completely disappeared, Bodie is a deserted ghost town preserving many of its old buildings.

About Abandoned Bodie

As the gold ran out the town fell into terminal decline and by 1915 it could aptly be described as a ghost town.

In its heyday, Bodie was one of California's largest cities (hard to believe that now). It had around 2,000 buildings (there are around 200 structures preserved today). It boasted the trappings of a larger town - it had several daily newspapers, a Wells Fargo Bank, four volunteer fire companies, a railroad, a miner's and mechanics' union, and more.

It boasted an impressive 65 saloons lining its Main Street (that stretched for a mile). It even had its own red-light district. In true Wild West fashion shootouts, murders, barroom brawls, stagecoach holdups and the like were regular. Additionally, it had a Chinatown with hundreds of Chinese residents complete with a Taoist temple.

  • Bodie Hayday: During The Gold Rush From 1877 to 1882
  • Peak Population: Over 10,000 Residents
  • Remaining Buildings: Almost 200 Abandoned Wooden Buildings Remain
  • Notable Buildings: A Church, Schoolhouse, Barbershop, Saloon
  • Discovery Of Gold: 1876
  • Altitude: 8,379 Feet or 2,554 Meters

Related: Check Out These Visitor Photos From Rhyolite, Nevada's True Western Ghost Town

Visiting Bodie

Today, Bodie is deliberately kept in a state of eerily decay and abandonment. One can peak through the windows and see bottles, desks, and other day-to-day items left as they were abandoned. It remains frozen in time and with California State Park preserving it in a state of "arrested decay". The buildings are maintained as they were found when the State took over the town in 1962. The buildings are not restored but maintained with their weathered 1880s appearance.

  • Season: Bodie Is Open Year-Round (But The Roads May Close With Snow)
  • Tip: Bodie Is In The High Desert and It Can Hail Even In The Summer, Don't Forget To Pack a Sweater
  • Established: The Bodie State Historic Park Was Established In 1962

Park Hours

  • Summer Hours: 9.00 am to 6 pm (March 14th to November 6th)
  • Winter Hours: 9.00 am to 3.00 pm (November 7th to May 14th)
  • Pets: Pets Are Welcome But Are Not Allowed In Any Historic Buildings
  • Entrance Fee: $8 For Adults, $5 For Children
  • Shops And Facilities: There Are No Shops, Restaurants, or Cafes At Bodie. Pack Everything One Will Need (there Are Restrooms)
  • Camping: There is No Camping Available Inside The Bodie State Park

Next time visiting the Serra Nevada's, Lake Tahoe, or Reno, go on an adventurous tour of the many ghost towns of this part of America. Call into Bodie, Aurora, Virginia City, and any other ghost towns one can discover in the area!

Next: 15 Ghost Towns In The US Disappearing Before Our Eyes (9 In Canada)