Bodie Ghost Town & Mono Lake (Sierra Nevada Mtns of California)


Overlanding Road Tripper
Back in August my wife and I spent a day exploring Bodie Ghost Town and Mono Lake up in the high desert of the Sierras. It was interesting exploring the north, east and south sides of Mono Lake (the dirt sides; US-395 runs on the west side), and that was after walking around Bodie which is an interesting place. I used Google Maps, and I brought them with me as an offline local download to the iPad. Handy.

(I plan to upload pics from my iPhone, soon. I will try right after completing this post.)

From San Francisco we took Sonora Pass (CA-108) going east over the Sierras to get to Bridgeport. The pass's drop on the east side of the Sierra Nevada is quite dramatic. Compared to the east side drop of Tioga Pass (CA-120), Sonora Pass's drop on the east side is more sudden and dramatic. The elevation at the top of Sonora Pass is 8,652'. Tioga is 9,943' and it is the highest highway pass over the Sierra Nevada. Sonora Pass is beautiful, but then Tioga Pass is even more beautiful although its drop is not as sudden and dramatic as Sonora's. You really should experience both if you can, they both are beautiful passes with great scenery especially on the dramatic east side - the west side of the Sierras is lush and gently sloped, while the east side is dry and dramatic with steep drop offs. We are very fortunate to live in God's Country out here. Just check your guns at the door (unfortunately).

To orient us on the map, Bodie is here:

Lat/Long (deg): 38.2137° N, 119.0146° W
Lat/Long (dms): 38°12'49.3"N 119°00'52.6"W
Google Maps:

After exploring Bodie, which was fun, I wanted to drive northeast around Bodie Bluff and then turn south towards Mono Lake. Google Maps says there's a road, and there is, but its gate was locked at this point here:

Lat/Long (deg): 38.2181° N, 118.9741° W
Lat/Long (dms): 38°13'05.2"N 118°58'26.8"W
Google Maps:

So for the heck of it we continued on the dirt Bodie Road to the northeast until we got to the Nevada state line:

Lat/Long (deg): 38.26900° N, 118.94975° W
Lat/Long (dms): 38°16'08.4"N 118°56'59.1"W
Google Maps:

It is an easy dirt road (in summer!). Boring. The most interesting thing was the small, bullet-ridden sign marking the NV state line. We turned around and headed back to Bodie. Oh and some open range cattle were straggling on the dirt road and they delayed us for just a little bit. They were a mild diversion.

Passing Bodie for the last time, we took Cottonwood Canyon Road south from Bodie towards Mono Lake. Approaching Mono Lake's north side we turned left onto this short cutover to Dobie Meadows Rd:

Lat/Long (deg): 38.1190° N, 119.024° W
Lat/Long (dms): 38°07'08.4"N 119°01'26.4"W
Google Maps:

An interesting round structure made of stone, like a big tank, is on the north side of Mono Lake:

Lat/Long (deg): 38.1426° N, 118.95353° W
Lat/Long (dms): 38°08'33.4"N 118°57'12.7"W
Google Maps: - Zoom in to see the round structure in this satellite view. It was an interesting oddity, the stone structure in the middle of nowhere.

Continuing east on Dobie Meadows Road, the road turned southeast and crossed Route 167 / Pole Line Rd:

Lat/Long (deg): 38.13458° N, 118.8777° W
Lat/Long (dms): 38°08'04.5"N 118°52'39.7"W
Google Maps:

We kept on that road (Dobie Meadows and 3N01) around the east side of Mono Lake until it joined the hardtop at CA-120:

Lat/Long (deg): 37.92° N, 118.7015° W
Lat/Long (dms): 37°55'12.0"N 118°42'05.4"W
Google Maps:

That stretch along the east side of the lake had some patches where the dirt was this super-soft, super-fine silt. I never had to air down but surely considered it. Once, I stopped to mark some territory (as mine, to signify to other wildlife that this spot of dirt belongs to echo7tango, so stay away), and the silt was like talcum powder, quietly poofy with each footstep, soft, and deceptively deeper than it looked. I marked my turf and we continued on.

If it had been a rainy day I'm sure that super-fine silt would've been slicker than snot.

Once on pavement we continued our counter-clockwise (CCW) trip around Mono Lake by heading west on CA-120. Some good views of Mono Lake are on the high grounds near Mono Mills on the south side of the lake.

At the south shoreline we approached the lake at what Google Maps calls the Navy Beach Parking Lot. We parked right by the water, wheels only a few feet from the water's super-salty edge (it was rocky and firm, not soft sand) at this spot:

Lat/Long (deg): 37.941° N, 119.02° W
Lat/Long (dms): 37°56'27.6"N 119°01'12.0"W
Google Maps:

From there we headed back to 395 and continued on. We were done exploring Bodie and Mono Lake for now.
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Overlanding Road Tripper
It looks like I can't upload pics from iPhone? Or from iPad either? Will have to do it from laptop later.


I use my iPad all the time for uploading pictures on this site. It's kinda funky but click the icon on the top far right that looks like a piece of film. Go to insert image, from computer, choose file, and it takes you to the photo library on the iPad. Below the image chosen hit upload image. You have to wait about 10 seconds and feels like nothing is happening but it does.

Here is my attempt, and I'm not good at this stuff at all.




Overlanding Road Tripper
Pictures from this trip. Old thread. The new interface makes pic uploads from the iPad easier.

► The steep, 26% grade over Sonora Pass / CA-108.
► Bodie church
► 2 pics, east of Bodie at the Nevada state line — dirt road, tiny sign, no casinos
► 3 pics along Mono Lake (with a seagull in flight)
► 3 pics at the odd, round, stone structure described in the OP.



Overlanding Road Tripper
Last pics.

► that odd, round stone structure — it’s in the middle of nowhere, with nothing else around; odd
► the rest of the pics are from going around the east end of Mono Lake, heading eastward, then southward before heading west and back to US-395; the dirt was a silt-like dust, almost like talcum powder, very fine and soft and “poofy” when you walked on it. I imagine when it’s wet, that stuff is slicker than snot!



Badger Wrangler
Great pictures! When I was a kid growing up in the Owens Valley, I never realized how vast and wide-open the country was - I thought everywhere looked like that.

Some of my ancestors are buried in the Bodie cemetery. At one time, there were something like 25,000 miners living on that bleak and remote mountainside, and (allegedly) 100 bars and 40 brothels to keep the workers from thinking about just how bleak and isolated the place was. Even in summer, Bodie is never hot; the winters are similar to North Korea or Siberia, with temps dipping to a brisk -40F and 20-foot snowdrifts. You can get frostbit just thinking about the weather there.