A Local's Guide to Nome
Trooper Anne Sears was featured in the National Geographic Channel series "Alaska State Troopers" while posted in Nome. She graduated from Juneau-Douglas High School in 1984 and later became an officer at the Juneau Police Department. She was hired by the Alaska State Troopers in 2001.
I was born in Nome in 1966. My dad was with the Federal Aviation Administration so I lived all over the state of Alaska when I was growing up. My husband and I moved back to Nome in 2006 and enjoy the best of both urban and rural living.
Nome is blessed first with an extremely friendly community. I thought it was just me — maybe folks thought I looked like my mom who is also from the Seward Peninsula — but other visitors to Nome have said the same thing to me: friendly folks. We also have a number of great restaurants, a movie theater for date nights, several grocery stores, and three jets in and out of Nome every day. In a town the size of Nome, we are blessed with a number of talented local artists, musicians, and all around creative souls. Those are the urban amenities but, in Nome, you can drive five minutes out and get away from it all with not another soul to be seen.
1. Walk, hike, run
I'm a walker, hiker, and a runner and I love hiking up Anvil Mountain, site of the White Alice radar dishes from World War II. My husband and I also hike up to Monument Rock, and both Anvil and Monument have beautiful views of the ocean, tundra, and the city. You can see from Cape Nome to Sledge Island. I also walk along the beach past Fort Davis. It's very peaceful and great for beachcombing. I pick up a lot of beach glass when I walk the beach. When I run, I go up the same trail to Anvil Mountain but instead of heading up to the top, I stick to Old Glacier Road, which goes around the west side of Anvil and heads back where there is still mining activity taking place. During the hikes and runs, I see musk ox, fox, sometimes bear and moose.
2. Go for a drive
In the summertime, the Nome area has about 250 miles of gravel road on which to take a drive (in the winter we're down to 26 miles). We have Teller Highway, which goes to the village of Teller, and I love this drive — it heads northwest and crosses several clear running rivers. I almost always see musk ox and the occasional bear and moose. Lots of ptarmigan, ground squirrels, reindeer, and many different types of birds can be seen from the highway. Nome is a birder’s paradise. One of the neatest sights I've encountered along the Teller Highway is when the Alaska cotton is "blooming" in late June through early July. It looks like the tundra is covered in snow. Gorgeous!
The Council Highway heads east along the Norton Sound, then turns inland and ends at the old mining community of Council. There used to be power and telephones in Council but it's now a recreational getaway for Nome residents. We love to head out for the weekend and take the boat down the clear running Niukluk River and fish for grayling, trout and, if we're lucky, the occasional salmon. I also like going out in the fall to pick blueberries and salmonberries (also known as cloudberries). Council is great for getting away from technology and the phones. The Kougarok Road runs north about 90 miles and is one of the most beautiful drives you will ever take. It's like the ice age just ended and a wooly mammoth could be on the road around the next corner. Lots of folks have camps up the Kougarok, and the folks who don't just take the drive to Salmon Lake and camp out for the weekend. The highway runs along the Nome River and crosses the Pilgrim River and the Kuzitrin River.
3. Get in a hot tub at Serpentine Hot Springs
About 90 air miles north of Nome is Serpentine Hot Springs, accessible only by plane or on foot in the summertime. Serpentine is located in the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve. In the winter you can ride a snowmobile into the preserve. Serpentine is the ultimate getaway. The National Park Service has built and maintained the facilities and made them extremely comfortable for an overnight stay. There is a bathhouse where you can soak your body in the hot springs and then take a hike among the ominous, spooky freestanding rock spires called "tors." There are usually caribou in the area as well as the occasional moose or bear. My husband and I fly our plane to the hot springs when the weather allows and enjoy the hiking and peace and quiet. I love it best in the fall when I can pick marble-sized blueberries near the tors. You can charter a flight into the preserve and I would say it's well worth the effort.
4. Husky Restaurant, Milanos and more
My favorite place to eat is Husky Restaurant, a family owned business. Kim serves the best sushi in town as well as wonderful tempura. The service is fast and friendly and Kim has a steel-trap memory for what everyone likes to eat. My husband likes to go to Milanos for their pizza. He says it’s the best in town. We are fortunate to have a number of restaurants to choose from in Nome. There is something for everyone. When I feel like cooking, I can stop by the Norton Sound Seafood Center and pick up halibut, crab, seaweed salad, calamari and the list goes on. There is really a great variety to choose from.
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