August Nights In Bodie

Equipment Info
17mm / f/2.8 / 30 sec. / ISO 5000
Nearest Area
Bodie State Historic Park
Brief Directions

Bodie lies about 15 miles east of the town of Bridgeport, in California's scenic Eastern Sierra region.


Bodie, America's best-preserved Wild West "ghost town", is arguably its most iconic location for photographers to shoot "rural decay" shots of historic buildings and abandoned vehicles in their most authentic state. The reason for this lies in the contract transferring Bodie to the State of California for preservation in the 1960s: that contract requires the State to maintain Bodie "as is". So to the degree possible, the town of 110 buildings and countless artifacts has remained in a state of arrested decay. You can walk into it today and see it as it was over five decades ago. The items left in the buildings have been in place that entire time, even the dust collecting on them is historic!


Bodie State Historic Park is closed at night, but a limited number of photography workshops are allowed supervised access, to help raise money for building stabilization. In August, the Milky Way rises up above historic buildings and vehicles in the historic ghost town of Bodie. Early in the night the Milky Way starts tilting left and on the left side of Main Street as you face it. Then over the following hours it effectively "crosses the street" in compass direction, and gradually tilts right over buildings on that other side of the street. The Milky Way position shifts two hours per month, so you could visit every month in the summer and no two nights are quite the same! The best Milky Way weeks also change from year to year, so the optimal compositions are a little different every time. I've accessed the Park in normally closed hours about 60 times since 2012, and it's always different. I don't think I'll ever get tired of it... I have five more visits scheduled to bring photographers out there with me in 2020!

Date Added
December 8, 2019
Date Taken
August 24, 2019