The California Bucket List: Your daily guide to the best adventures and experiences in the Golden State

California Bucket List

Here’s your daily travel guide to the best adventures and experiences in the Golden State. Each of these essential California adventures has been tried and tested by a Travel section staffer or contributor.

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Family-friendlyHigh Sierra

Kick around the dusty ghost town of Bodie, a relic of the really Wild West

 (Marc Martin / Los Angeles Times)
(Marc Martin / Los Angeles Times)

Why: Bodie is an eastern Sierra ghost town so well preserved that it looks as if it might’ve been operating last week. Notorious for putting the "wild" in Wild West, it was once described by a minister as a “sea of sin.” By all accounts, he was right. The sprawling old mining camp at one time featured more than 60 saloons and dance halls.

What: Bodie’s heyday began in the 1870s, making it a gold rush town of 8,500 residents by the end of the decade. Miners spent difficult days working the mines and nights working the bars, dance halls and gambling dens.  Gunfights and stage holdups were common as the riches were transported across long, dusty trails.

 (Marc Martin / Los Angeles Times)
(Marc Martin / Los Angeles Times)

But the riches did not last long. By the 1880s, the mines were depleted. The population plunged to 1,500 by 1886. Fires destroyed much of the town, and what was left was abandoned in the 1940s. In 1962, it was declared a state historic park and a national historic landmark.

Each year, as weather permits, thousands of visitors peer into the past here.  

Where: Bodie State Historic Park is in Mono County, 362 miles north of Los Angeles (a six- to seven-hour drive). It is off the 395, south of Bridgeport. The exit is State Route 270, and the first 10 miles of that road are paved, the last three rutted and dusty. Except for low-slung sports cars, most vehicles will have no problems making the drive. Park hours vary by season, and heavy snow closes the road.

How much: $8 per adult; $5 per child ages 3-17. Cash and checks only.

Info: Bodie State Historic Park 

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