Visiting the Ghost Town Bodie, California As A Wheelchair User

Unrestored and frozen in time, the town of Bodie, California is everything a quintessential ghost town should be. It became a State Park in 1962 and the park has chosen to preserve the town’s “aged and weathered 1880s appearance.” Only a small percentage of the town survives today. Gold was discovered in 1859 by William Bodey and a mill was established in 1861. The spelling of the town was eventually changed to Bodie before many people began living there. It was a bustling town of 10,000 by 1880. There was everyone from families to miners, prostitutes, store owners, and gunfighters. At one point there were 65 saloons in town. It had all the makings of a town in the Wild West, until people eventually started to move away. What was left behind is one of the most fascinating parks I’ve ever visited.

I remember coming across Bodie on an internet search for things to do near Lake Tahoe and more specifically a search for ghost towns, as one does when they’re on vacation. The next search I always make after I find an interesting place is checking to see if it’s wheelchair friendly. I found a page from California Parks and it describes areas that are accessible. There’s an accessible picnic area as well as a bathroom. The dirt shown in the photo above was hard packed dirt, but areas were still loose in some places and I had to navigate around to the areas where my wheelchair wouldn’t get stuck. There is also a large balloon-tired wheelchair available for people if they’d like that option. You’ll have to call ahead to reserve one.

The park is open all year from 9 am to 6 pm in the summer and 9 am to 4 pm, or as posted in the winter. But please note, you’ll have to travel over snow in the winter so make sure the park is open before you go. The Visitor Center/Museum is open May 15 to October 31 from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm. The road to get to the park is long, dusty and very bumpy so be sure to drive in a car that’s made for that. But we saw someone drive up in a Porsche so really it’s whatever you like driving! We stopped to pick up lunch in Bridgeport. There is no food or water sold in the park so bring snacks and whatever food you want to eat before you arrive.

I visited during the middle of October and it happened to be a really clear day! Finding wheelchair accessible places isn’t always easy and if you aren’t a wheelchair user, it’s difficult to really know what someone using a wheelchair will need to know before they visit somewhere new. I think this park did a really great job of making this old town accessible. There are paved disabled parking spots and a paved path down to the town. While some spots on the town’s main road was loose gravel, the street is wide enough that you can find more packed dirt to create your path. There is a wooden plank path up to and by the Visitor’s Center/Museum next to the old Odd Fellows building, pictured below. I would go back for sure. There’s so much to see that it might take a few trips to really see it all.

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