Nome, Alaska Visitor Guide
Nome is a historic town located on the Seward Peninsula in western Alaska. Known for its role in the early 20th-century gold rush, Nome today offers visitors a unique blend of history, outdoor adventure, and cultural experiences. This guide will cover Nome’s latitude and longitude, directions from Anchorage, things to do, history, famous people, RV and camping information, and annual festivals and events.
Nome is situated at approximately 64.4984° N latitude and 165.3985° W longitude.
Getting to Nome from Anchorage
Nome is located about 539 miles northwest of Anchorage and is not accessible by road. The most common ways to reach Nome are by air or by sea.
Several airlines, including Alaska Airlines and Ravn Alaska, offer daily flights between Anchorage and Nome. The flight takes approximately 1.5 hours, and Nome’s airport (OME) is located just 2 miles from downtown.
During the summer months, the Alaska Marine Highway System operates a ferry service between the Aleutian Islands and Nome. The journey takes several days and requires a stopover and transfer in Dutch Harbor. Alternatively, some cruise lines include Nome as a port of call on their itineraries.
Things to Do
Nome offers a variety of attractions and activities for visitors to enjoy.
Carrie M. McLain Memorial Museum
Visit the Carrie M. McLain Memorial Museum to learn about Nome’s gold rush history, as well as the region’s indigenous cultures and natural environment. The museum features exhibits on mining, Native Alaskan art, and local history.
Anvil City Square
Explore Anvil City Square, a small park in downtown Nome that commemorates the town’s gold rush heritage. The park features a replica of the Anvil Rock, the landmark that gave the city its name, as well as interpretive displays and a playground.
Bering Land Bridge National Preserve
Venture into the remote Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, which encompasses over 2.7 million acres of unspoiled wilderness. The preserve offers opportunities for hiking, wildlife viewing, and learning about the region’s geological history and ancient human migrations.
Try your luck at gold panning on the beaches of Nome. Many local outfitters offer guided tours and equipment rentals to help you search for gold just like the original prospectors.
Nome’s history dates back to the late 19th century when gold was discovered in the area. The gold rush of 1898 brought thousands of prospectors to Nome, transforming it into a bustling boomtown. At its peak, Nome was the largest city in Alaska, with a population of over 20,000.
Nome’s gold rush era was characterized by a lawless, rough-and-tumble atmosphere, with miners staking claims, building makeshift settlements, and frequenting dance halls and saloons. The town’s population began to decline in the early 20th century as gold deposits dwindled, and many prospectors moved on to other regions.
Despite the end of the gold rush, Nome remained an important regional hub, serving as a transportation and supply center for the surrounding communities. During World War II, the town’s strategic location led to the construction of military facilities, and Nome became a key outpost in the defense of Alaska.
Today, Nome is a small, close-knit community that celebrates its unique history and embraces its remote location. The town has managed to preserve its gold rush heritage through the preservation of historic buildings, the creation of museums, and the hosting of annual events that commemorate its storied past.
Famous People from Nome
One notable individual from Nome is Leonard Seppala (1877–1967), a famous musher and dog breeder who played a crucial role in the 1925 serum run to Nome, also known as the Great Race of Mercy. Seppala and his lead dog, Togo, were instrumental in delivering life-saving diphtheria antitoxin to the town during a severe outbreak. The serum run later inspired the creation of the annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
RV and Camping Information
Due to Nome’s remote location and lack of road access, RV camping options are limited. However, there are a few options for tent camping in the area:
– **Nome Creek Campground**: Located within the White Mountains National Recreation Area, about 100 miles east of Nome, Nome Creek Campground offers primitive campsites, picnic areas, and access to hiking trails. The campground is open seasonally and operates on a first-come, first-served basis.
– **Council Road Campgrounds**: Several primitive campgrounds and pullouts can be found along the 72-mile Council Road, which stretches from Nome to the historic town of Council. These campgrounds are not maintained and offer no facilities, so be prepared for a rustic camping experience.
Nome hosts several annual festivals and events that celebrate its unique history, culture, and environment:
Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race
The world-famous Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race begins in Anchorage and ends in Nome, covering over 1,000 miles of rugged Alaskan terrain. The race takes place each year in early March, with the first mushers typically arriving in Nome around mid-March. The town comes alive with excitement as residents and visitors gather to cheer on the mushers and their dog teams as they cross the finish line.
Midnight Sun Festival
Held each year around the summer solstice in June, the Midnight Sun Festival is a celebration of Nome’s Arctic location and long daylight hours. The event features live music, traditional Native Alaskan dancing, arts and crafts vendors, food booths, and various family-friendly activities.
Bering Sea Ice Golf Classic
The Bering Sea Ice Golf Classic is a unique and quirky event held each March, where participants play a round of golf on the frozen Bering Sea. The event raises funds for local non-profit organizations and features a six-hole course, complete with whacky obstacles and ice sculptures.
Nome River Raft Race
Taking place in June, the Nome River Raft Race is a fun, community-based event where teams build homemade rafts and race them down the Nome River. The event is a fundraiser for local non-profit organizations and includes a post-race barbecue and awards ceremony.
Nome Discovery Days
Held in July, Nome Discovery Days is a weekend-long event that celebrates Nome’s gold rush history and diverse cultural heritage. The event features gold panning demonstrations, historical reenactments, traditional Native Alaskan dancing, a parade, and various arts and crafts vendors.
The Christmas Extravaganza is an annual holiday celebration held in early December. This festive event features a tree lighting ceremony, caroling, visits with Santa, and a craft fair where visitors can purchase handmade gifts and baked goods from local vendors.
By attending these annual festivals and events, visitors to Nome, Alaska, can immerse themselves in the town’s unique history, rich cultural traditions, and vibrant community spirit.