7 Things to Do in Nome
Whether you wish to see the famed northern lights dance across the midnight sky or speedy dogsleds at the Iditarod, there are many ways to experience the beauty of Nome on Alaska’s Seward Peninsula. Here are seven top activities to choose from during your stay.
1. Experience Alaska Native Culture
From a subsistence lifestyle to music and art, Alaska Native culture is vibrant in Nome. Located on the edge of the Bering Sea, Nome is a hub for northwest Alaska. Visitors who want to experience its indigenous culture should head to the Carrie M. McLain Memorial Museum. The museum offers a wide variety of displays and historical pictures to help visitors discover the lifestyles and art of the indigenous Bering Strait people.
Travelers can also check out the local shops to purchase Alaska gifts such as sealskin slippers and art that includes numerous types of ivory, jade, and soapstone carvings.
2. Be Awed by the Northern Lights
Travel to Nome to see the northern lights. This hub city is easy to get to but far enough from city lights that you’ll get bright and beautiful show. When supercharged solar particles colliding with the earth’s atmosphere cause green and even purple lights to dance across the sky, Nome has plenty of prime viewing spots close by.
For the best experience, check the aurora forecast or join a guided northern lights tour with a knowledgeable guide who will know the best viewing spots. Nothing tops off an Alaska trip like stunning views of the lights.
3. Go Fishing
Catch your limit in Nome! The area contains 14 rivers where travelers can catch a variety of fish, including large Arctic grayling, salmon, and pike. Pack in gear or visit one of the local outfitters to get set up with all the essentials. Fishing licenses may be purchased online or at many different stores around town. Travelers can set out on their own or book a guided fishing trip to find the best fishing holes.
Some guided fishing trips travel far off the beaten path, and even include overnight options in remote cabins and helicopter rides to isolated fishing holes. Take a short flight complete with amazing views before hiking down river with a guide. It’s not uncommon to spot a bear, moose, or musk ox along the way. Experienced guides will do their best to make sure that visitors with little to no fishing experience can get in on the action.
4. Explore Gold Rush History
Nome boomed when gold was discovered by historical figures known as the “three lucky Swedes” at Anvil Creek in 1898, and then the following year on its beaches. After that, people stampeded to the area and Nome’s population grew to 28,000. Today, Nome’s population is about 3,800 and there is still some gold-mining work in the area.
Nome tour companies offer a variety of gold-panning experiences. Try gold panning in a local creek and visit historical buildings and cabins. When touring the town, many artifacts of the Gold Rush can be seen, including abandoned dredges, steam engines, old mining claims, and more. Take a picture with the largest gold pan in the United States before heading to the beach.
Visitors can spend hours beachcombing near Nome and discover gold-mining equipment on the beach or in shallow waters. Some of it is still in use today!
5. See the Iditarod Finish
Nome is perhaps best known as the finish line of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. The nearly 1,000-mile race begins the first Saturday in March with a ceremonial start in Anchorage and an official start in Willow, and Nome's Iditarod festivities begin a week after the start and continue as the mushers trickle in.
During the finish of the race, Nome’s population grows by approximately 1,000 people waiting for finishers to arrive. Meet some of the biggest names in the dog mushing industry while keeping an eye out for dog teams and their mushers rolling into town.
6. See Alaska’s Beach, Tundra, and Forest
Travel the 350 miles of road system around Nome to explore the miles of beach, tundra, and forest in the area. Get the real Alaska beach experience walking Nome’s shoreline. There is plenty of sand, and beachcombers will discover everything from driftwood to beach glass and other items hidden in the sand.
The unique landscape of the tundra offers endless miles of treeless wilderness to explore and is blanketed with abundant wildflowers and tundra plants. Beginning in June, the landscape blossoms with wildflowers and berry bushes that transition into magnificent colors before winter sets in. Discover the tundra blooms and even go berry picking.
In the summer, drive to the end of the Nome-Council Road to find the western end of the Interior region’s boreal forest. The forest is made up of mostly black and white spruce mixed with cottonwood, willow, and alder thickets.
7. Look for Wildlife
From coast to tundra, Nome’s landscapes are home to a variety of animal species, making it a prime location for wildlife viewing. Musk oxen and moose can often be seen in the willow thickets and brown bears roam the region. In the winter, watch for Arctic fox on the hunt for their next meal. Other critters visitors can spot include beavers, wolves, and wolverines.
Many species of birds live in Nome throughout the summer and winter. Head out to the tundra to watch for rare curlews or look to the boreal forest for songbirds in the summer. In the winter, watch out for gyrfalcons and ptarmigans in the snow.
Don’t forget the marine life in Nome. Whales can be seen in ocean waters and salmon are often visible swimming up local streams when they leave the ocean to spawn.
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