In season three of The Brady Bunch (in the early 1970s), The Bradys and their trusted maid Alice took a trip to the Grand Canyon. On the way, they stopped at a ghost town where they got locked in jail by a demented prospector who thought they were there to steal his non-existent gold claim! Do ghost towns only exist on TV shows and in movies, or can you and your family visit one in real life– minus the being locked in jail part?
About an hour’s drive north of Big Rock Resort you can visit a genuine California gold mining ghost town! It’s called Bodie State Historic Park, and visitors can walk down deserted streets of a town that once had some 10,000 people in it… but today, none.
Today, Bodie State Historic Park contains whatever is left of the old town–about 200 buildings in a state of “arrested decay.” Interestingly, interiors have been left intact, still stocked with old goods. Bodie was a thriving place from 1877 to 1882– when the gold and silver mining in the area was in full swing. But then the boom town went bust once everyone found all the gold and silver and decided to move on. Thankfully, in 1962, this old ghost town was designated a National Historic Site and a State Historic Park.
Want to peek into the windows of the old church? How about the old schoolhouse, barbershop, or saloon? Is the place haunted? You’ll have to visit to find out for yourself.
Bodie State Historic Park is northeast of Yosemite. It’s 13 miles east of Highway 395 on Bodie Road (Hwy. 270), and seven miles south of Bridgeport. To get there, once you’re on State Route 270, go east for 10 miles to the end of the pavement. Then you’ll continue for 3 miles on a rough dirt road to Bodie. Getting there is an adventure.
At Bodie, you’ll find a bookstore inside the park’s museum– it’s where you can inquire about daily tours. Note: you should bring your own food and water if you visit. Restrooms are located in the parking lot and picnic area. No smoking is allowed in the park (except in the parking lot). If you bring a dog, it must be leashed at all times; dogs aren’t permitted on the Mill or Mining District tours. Since everything is protected in this park, you’re not allowed to remove anything from it.
Is Bodie open all year? Yes. In the winter months, though, it’s accessible only by skis, snowshoes or snowmobiles! From May 15 – Oct. 31, the park is open from 9 to 6; otherwise it’s open 9 to 3pm. Admission (which can vary) is $8 per adult and $5 for kids– cash or check only.