Ecology and Wildlife
The Bodie Hills contain outstanding natural and cultural values. The mountains are a transition zone between the Sierra Nevada and the Great Basin and thus harbor a diverse assemblage of plant and animal species. including pika, lodgepole pine, Sierra juniper and Utah juniper. The Nature Conservancy has noted that the Bodie Hills “are among the most biodiverse in the Great Basin ecoregion" (Nachlinger et al., 2001). Pronghorn antelope, rare in central eastern California, are numerous in the Bodie Hills. The Bodie Hills are one of the last strongholds for the Bi-State sage grouse, a Distinct Population Segment of sage grouse with unique characteristics which is found in only a few counties along the central California-Nevada border. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently ruled that the Bi-State sage grouse warranted listing under the federal Endangered Species Act. Pika, black bear, mountain lion, mule deer and many raptors including golden eagle, also inhabit the Bodie Hills.
The area contains two streams, Rough and Atastra Creeks, that were determined by BLM to be eligible for federal Wild and Scenic river status. These streams provide suitable recovery habitat for the Lahontan Cutthroat trout, a federally-listed Threatened species. The Bodie Hills also contain numerous riparian areas, including small wet meadows and aspen groves that provide critical wildlife habitat. Ephemeral wetlands attract migrating shorebirds and waterfowl in the spring.
Cultural Resources and Human History
Humans inhabited these hills long before William S. Bodey came to the area in 1859 in search of gold. He found it, and the discovery led to the establishment of a boomtown.
While Bodie and the nearby town of Aurora, in Nevada, were historically mined and produced abundant gold and silver, the bulk of the Bodie Hills remain largely undisturbed and pristine, even though they have been subject to extensive mineral exploration. Evidence of past mining history remains throughout the Bodie Hills to be discovered by modern day explorers. The Bodie Historic District, which includes Bodie State Historic Park is recognized as a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of Interior. The National Park Service has also evaluated Bodie and its surroundings as a potential National Historic Landscape. Bodie State Historic Park is California’s official ghost town and one of the state’s most popular parks.
The Bodie Hills were also extensively used by Native American tribes and evidence of their past occupation is abundant. The range contains one of the highest densities if not the highest density of archaeological sites in the Great Basin. The Bodie Hills obsidian source was a major trading area for obsidian, and of special value to tribes located as far west as the Central Valley, California. The 3,000 acre Dry Lakes Plateau in the eastern Bodie Hills (part of the Bodie WSA) has been listed by the National Park Service as a National Register District for its abundance of important cultural sites.
Bodie State Historic Park, located in the center of the Bodie Hills, is one of the best preserved gold rush ghost towns in the West and is well worth the visit. Wild lands surround Bodie and are open for all types of exploration and recreation, including hiking, hunting, mountain biking, off-road vehicle use on existing roads, skiing and snowmobiling. The area is grazed by cattle and sheep.