I’ve been interested in seeing Bodie, California, for decades… having heard about it for the first time when I was still in high school some forty years ago. Did it meet my expectations? Oh yes — very much so!
I don’t know what the total count may be of complete, semi-complete, and foundation-only buildings that remain visible there (somewhere in the neighborhood of 170 structures, supposedly…), but it’s easily the largest ghost town I’ve ever seen and is chock full of cool photo opportunities.
If you ever have a spare day available to go and explore it, here are my recommendations:
- Take a bottle of water with you while walking around the buildings. Bodie is much bigger than it seems and hiking back to the vehicle for water gets old quick; also, the only water fountain available is just off the parking lot — so you’d be hiking almost all the way back either way.
- Wear a wide-brim hat. It’s in the desert (duh); it’s hot, even in the cooler months. Wear a baseball cap only if you want your neck and ears to get totally cooked. Keep in mind that proper medical care is at least an hour away, so plan accordingly.
- Wear enclosed shoes. I can’t emphasis this enough. There is broken glass, sharp pieces of scrap metal and old cans, ceramic shards and chunks of brick, rusty nails and screws, wild animal scat, and other foot hazards everywhere you walk. I wore running shoes instead of my heavy hiking boots and regretted my decision when a rusty roofing nail came through the sole of my shoe; it didn’t pierce my skin, but it was a close call. Had I been wearing flip-flops or sandals, we would have had to cut the visit short to find someplace to get a tetanus shot.
- Bring lots of film, or lots of spare batteries and memory chips. We arrived right when the park opened, stayed all day and took hundreds of photos, and STILL didn’t see everything.