Between the Great Basin and the towering Sierra Nevada lies the high desert Bodie Hills. Abutted by the Nevada border to the east and the tiny ranching community of Bridgeport, California, to the west, the Bodie Hills are an uncurated haven for outdoor recreation.
The BLM manages the hills, which are under consideration for National Monument status and the subject of a heated land use debate. Human impact on the Bodie Hills was most significant during the 19th-century mining boom and can be revisited at the nearby ghost town in Bodie State Historic Park.
Today, cattlemen graze their livestock by permit while hunters, campers, and ATV users enjoy existing roads. The rough, narrow roads SR 168 and 169 are enjoyable four-wheel drive routes that bypass the crowds headed to Bodie State Historic Park on CA-270. Locals warn against taking Masonic Road (SR-046) in inclement weather due to its quicksand-like mud.
Keep in mind that portions of the Bodie Hills are privately owned, so please respect posted signage. Also, various areas may be closed seasonally to protect the recovering sage grouse population.
Camping is free on the public lands, but a fire permit must be obtained at a local ranger station or online.
Day hikers will enjoy Potato Peak or Bodie Mountain, both over 10,000 feet and both a relatively easy climb from Bodie Masonic Road (SR 169) at 9,000 feet.
The high elevation and remote location of the Bodie Hills come with some risks. Be prepared for scenarios including sub-zero temperatures, impassable roads, and lack of cell reception.