On our last trip to Hawthorne, Nevada John and I were looking forward to driving the dirt road from Hawthorne to the ghost town of Bodie, California.
We awoke early one morning, gassed up my Jeep, picked up some snacks and headed south of town on Nevada Highway 359 until we reached the intersection with Bodie Road. We then turned west at Bodie Road and drove up the Bajada and into the mountains toward Lucky Boy Pass.
Sunrise at Lucky Boy Pass
The pavement ends after a few miles and becomes a wide, well-maintained dirt road as it approaches Lucky Boy Pass. Soon we reached the top of the mountains and descended into a beautiful valley. Although we did not see evidence of ranching in the valley we saw some cattle along the road as we neared the cut-off for Aurora, Nevada. The road was much narrower now and did not appear to be maintained. So far we have not needed 4WD.
At the cut-off for Aurora we turned south off of Bodie Road heading up into the hills. Put the old Jeep in 4WD and soon the road forked and became one-way only. Along the way to Aurora we saw some ruins in the ravine to the left. A couple of miles up the trail we approached the main mining area where there was a modern pond for disposing of the mine filings in the area. Shortly after passing the pond we turned onto another trail toward the Aurora Cemetery. The trail was a little rougher now. As we were climbing the hill, we wondered why the residents of old-time Aurora located the cemetery so far from the mining area We soon wondered if we had passed the cemetery and began looking for a place to turn around. Just up the hill there was a wide spot where we thought we could do so. When we reached that wide spot, John noticed the cemetery on the right so we parked and shot a few pictures.
Leaving the cemetery, we drove down the hill on another road and hooked back up with the route back to Bodie Road. It was not long before we reached the one-way road and soon came upon the ruins we had seen on the road up to Aurora. We snapped a few shots and were again on our way. At Bodie Road, we turned west and travelled into Bodie Canyon.
As the canyon narrowed, the trail became just wide enough for one vehicle. We stopped at several places while driving thru the canyon. There was some fall color in the trees and a few cattle. We stopped at one place where the brown color of the hills contrasted with some white outcroppings which I think were limestone.
At this point, we were keeping an eye out for a muddy area where we might have some difficulty. Just as the canyon was widening out, we came to a small bridge across the mostly dry creek. The bridge was not passable so we backed up about ten feet or so, drove down into the creek and up the other side. Now the canyon began to widen even farther and we finally arrived at the muddy area we had read about. Apparently there is always water at this spot on the trail. which becomes un-passable after heavy rains or snow. I exited the Jeep and threw some rocks into the water to check the depth of the water. In one spot, it looked pretty deep with mud and water, so we turned off the road and went around the muck.
Upon leaving the muddy area, we climbed up another hill and as we passed over it, the road became wide enough to two vehicles and we saw more evidence of ranching.. We were now pretty close to Bodie, California and the road widened even more. We stopped a couple of times to photograph some ruins. When we reached Bodie we pulled of the road for a bathroom break. There were not many cars in the parking lot and we headed out on Bodie Road toward US Highway 395. At the intersection of 395, we headed north to visit the town of Bridgeport where John had a nice, cool beer and we both took another bathroom break.
After a bit, we drove south on 395 toward Mono Lake. Upon reaching the roadside lookout over Mono Lake, the light and sky were not so good and we decided to make our way back to Hawthrone via California Highway 167 and Nevada Highway 359. It was an uneventful drive as we went thru a Juniper-grassland life zone before dropping down into the high desert of Nevada.
That evening we went out for pizza. It was Johns turn to drive but the battery in his 4Runner was dead so we drove my Jeep. The next morning, AAA came to John's rescue with a new battery. We both got a late start for home.
We had a good time on this trip. It was disappointing that Bodie Road was not a little rougher, which is what we were expecting. After emailing each other after the trip and swapping images, we both realized that we did not take as many pictures as we normally do. When we visit areas such as the Valley of Fire or Joshua Tree National Park, we both capture a lot of images with varying perspectives and focal lengths. We did not do so much of that on this trip. What we both like is that we were out there, taking pictures and exploring areas that are new to us and a bit off the beaten path.
Below is a short video clip of Bodie Canyon. I apologize for the quality. Have since bought a new dash cam that produces much higher quality.