Bodie – a California ghost town in pictures

Church Bodie California

The church at Bodie – this has been my screensaver for 5 years now!

The point at which I really fell in love with photography was during a life changing road trip we took down the West Coast of the United States from Seattle to San Francisco. Paul had recently bought me a small compact camera with a ton of functionality and I was addicted to trying different settings and learning what aperture, shutter speed and ISO meant. I took over 1000 photos on that 2 week trip and some of them are still my favourites today. One location that really stands out is the ghost town of Bodie which is east of Yosemite and just north of Mono Lake in the Sierra Nevada mountains.


Bodie started out in 1859 when gold prospectors settled in the area, 20 years later it was a booming mining town with 7000 inhabitants and all of the buildings that come along with such rapid expansion. The weather in this part of California is notoriously tough in the winter and we saw photos of cabins that had snow well over roof level, but people still flocked with the promise of gold in the hills. By 1910 the mining had dried up and the population had dwindled to a few hundred as folks moved on to more promising mining locations. The town was left exactly as it was and ended up in what is now called a ‘state of arrested decay’. In 1961 the town was declared a National Historic Landmark and then swiftly became Bodie State Historic Park.


It is now a photographer’s paradise – blue skies and green grass with the stereotypical wild west wooden buildings thrown in for good measure. It was somewhere we heard about by chance but it ended up being one of the highlights of an already phenomenal trip. We stopped in on a drive between Tahoe and Yosemite and if anyone is headed down the beautiful route 395, it is definitely worth adding Bodie to your itinerary.


Below are some of my favourite images of this lovely ghost town


Bodie town California

The homes and businesses of Bodie

Bodie California

Beautiful blue skies in Bodie

House Bodie California

One of the houses in town

Car Bodie California

Photogenic rust bucket

Flowers Bodie California

Playing with aperture for the first time

Bodie house California

Looking just as good in monochrome


Have you visited a ghost town? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below



Posted on by Maddie Posted in USA

6 Responses to Bodie – a California ghost town in pictures

  1. Lucy

    There’s something so fascinating about ghost towns, the way they’re just left to return back into nature.
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    • Maddie

      Totally agree, it’s so interesting to see the landscape creep back into town and trying to imagine thousands of people living there.

  2. Amy

    Bodie looks like a film set; so beautiful and eerie. The second-to-last photo is brilliant.
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    • Maddie

      Thanks Amy, it was like a Wild West film set but utterly unexpected. Someone had mentioned it offhand – suggesting that we stop by as part of a longer journey. It ended up being a real highlight of that trip.

  3. Mark

    I absolutely love Bodie! I dreamed of visiting it for years after seeing a photo of what looked like an untouched room with roulette wheel and chips still on the dust-covered table. Then we accidentally ran into it on our honeymoon driving to Reno from Yosemite. Such a beautiful place.
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    • Maddie

      Hi Mark, we had a very similar experience in that we sort of stumbled across it, I was blown away by the beauty of Bodie and spent ages taking hundreds of photos. Such a wonderful place! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

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