Nome delights visitors year-round

Known as a rough-and-tumble, gritty gold rush town and the finish line of the renowned Iditarod race, Nome offers more than precious minerals and mushing. The Seward Peninsula city of roughly 3,600 residents located on Norton Sound in the Bering Sea might be remote, but that doesn’t mean it’s inaccessible. In fact, warming winters have opened up Bering Strait waters for all but the coldest months of the year, leading to construction of the nation’s first deep-water arctic port. Slated to be completed within the next seven years, the $600 million project will allow 4,000-passenger cruise ships, cargo ships, and military vessels to dock 10 boats at a time, providing supplies to isolated outlying villages, protection from the increasing threats of foreign vessels, and additional tourism revenue for a city on the isolated tundra. In addition to major cruise line guests and Iditarod race followers, birders have been flocking to Nome in increasing numbers to catch rare “lifer” birds, including the elusive McKay’s bunting. You can also ride horses, ATVs, or go fly fishing. No matter what brings you north, you’ll find a burgeoning destination filled with muskox, auroras, old-timey saloons, Native culture, and maybe even a valuable nugget or two to bring home.

—Michelle Theall

An aerial view of downtown Nome in winter.

Michelle Theall

The nose of a sled dog after finishing the Iditarod on Front Street.

Courtesy Roy Wood, NPS

A pair of muskox wades through marshy water. In the summer months, muskox can easily be seen in and around downtown Nome.

Courtesy Ralph Earlandson

The world-famous Board of Trade Saloon, established in 1900 and still serving up hard liquor and the occasional drunken brawl.

Michelle Theall

The small, brightly colored bluethroat can only be found in the Alaskan tundra or Yukon.

Courtesy Mick Thompson

It’s a treat to spot ptarmigan in the winter months in Nome.

Michelle Theall

Brilliant auroras light up the sky in colorful swirls and bands at 3 a.m. in Nome.

Michelle Theall

A McKay’s bunting in flight. Birders seek a glimpse of this life-list species, which is rarely seen because of its remote breeding locations.

Courtesy Julio Mulero

The world’s largest gold pan welcomes visitors to town.

Michelle Theall

A beautiful and curious red fox foraging along the road near Nome.

Courtesy Gregory “Slobirdr” Smith

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