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Planning a summer visit to Nome

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Philadelphia, PA
posts: 606
reviews: 524
Planning a summer visit to Nome

Through the magic of frequent flyer miles, I can get to Nome for free. I've been to lots of places in Alaska (none in the bush), so I'm up for a little adventure. Not TOO much adventure, though, because I'm thinking of taking the wife and kids (11- 15).

From the guidebooks, Nome seems interesting, and I like the fact that we can rent a car and drive ourselves whereever we want to go.

Other than running into the occasional drunk, is there any reason that Nome would not make a good stop on a summer Alaskan family vacation? Is there any time of the summer that's better than any other (I read somewhere that coming in early summer would be muddy)? And how many days should we stay in Nome? We'd like a chance to drive around a bit and see the sights, and also get a feel for the town and its people. But, given the expense, and the fact that we want to see other Alaskan places, we don't want to relax and "linger." Does 3 days make sense for sightseeing?

Thanks for the help!

13 replies to this topic
MN
Destination Expert
for Alaska
posts: 13,056
reviews: 24
1. Re: Planning a summer visit to Nome

Sounds like you have Delta or Alaska Air miles that allow for a free stopover en route. I take advantage of that feature with every one of my trips using miles.

I have never been to Nome (yet) but I think it would be interesting. You might want to hook up with someone locally who can either give you some more info/guide type person, etc. I could see how going to one of these more remote towns by oneself and trying to navigate the entire trip on your own would mean you miss out on some of the real gems.

I would think 3 nights, i.e. two full days, would be the minimum. If you want 3 full days, you need four nights.

I am taking a trip next spring to Dutch Harbor and I will be there four nights. I know I will never get back there, so I wanted to take some time.

Philadelphia, PA
posts: 606
reviews: 524
2. Re: Planning a summer visit to Nome

Right. it's a frequent flyer "free stopover" type deal. Just trying to figure out the right amount of time, given that I'll obviously be visiting other parts of Alaska, too.

Dutch Harbor? I'm guessing they get a few tourists due to the Deadliest Catch series. Certainly in the "visit Nome" spirit!

haines, alaska
Destination Expert
for Haines
posts: 6,884
reviews: 28
3. Re: Planning a summer visit to Nome

Have never been to Nome yet, either.......one thing I have heard is that there is still quite a bit of gold flakes that wash up on the beach there......might be fun for the kids to pan for it........One absolute requirement is for you to post a trip report when you get back !

MN
Destination Expert
for Alaska
posts: 13,056
reviews: 24
4. Re: Planning a summer visit to Nome

I trust it will work out to get to Nome. Definitely do post a trip report when you return.

I am not sure that Dutch Harbor gets all that many tourists, even with the Deadliest Catch series (which I by the way have never seen). At $1,000 round trip to get there from Anchorage, and being so remote, I would be surprised if more than just a very few go there for that.

Adirondack, New York
posts: 3,924
reviews: 89
5. Re: Planning a summer visit to Nome

IMHO,it would be much more interstresting and more to d o for 15 and 11 year olds in Cordova or Kodiak than Nome and I visited these three destinations.

Alaska
Destination Expert
for Alaska
posts: 1,663
reviews: 5
6. Re: Planning a summer visit to Nome

OK, I have been to Nome and can highly recommend it. Rent a truck or car, take advantage of the friendly people in Nome and engage them in conversation whenever you have the chance. They all have interesting stories to tell. I will even recommend you go into the bank to get cash rather than use the ATM and enjoy the old fashioned friendly atmosphere.

Head to the visitor center for lots of good advice and to line out the possibilities that interest you, and where you can pan for gold, where the animals are along the highway. If animals in the wild are a big thing, stop at the Fish and Game or Wildlife office for their news as well. If you are along the beach, stop and talk to the gold washers, often enough one will invite you to try your hand at gold washing a little bit. Some of them will be quite bitten by the fever and will not want to bother to talk.

Food and life in Nome is expensive, so when you go into the grocery store, keep in mind that the locals pay those prices every day.

One road leads off to Teller, an Eskimo village. Another will take you out past Salmon Lake to Pilgrim Hot Springs (if you stay in the center of the road through the big puddles you will have no trouble if you have a standard 4WD pickup), and the beach road goes out past the Train To Nowhere, along the last stretch of the Iditarod Dog Sled Race. Oh, PC today is Sled Dog.

71

Philadelphia, PA
posts: 606
reviews: 524
7. Re: Planning a summer visit to Nome

Thanks, 71. Frommers has a nice write up, too. I haven't yet seen anything that says DON'T go to Nome, so it can't be too bad. At a minimum, I'm sure it will be a "once in a lifetime" experience. :)

Philadelphia, PA
posts: 606
reviews: 524
8. Re: Planning a summer visit to Nome

I've done a little more research, and am in the process of booking my airline tickets. I'm still thinking that 3 nights are enough. Seems to me the Aurora hotel is the place to stay and, by Alaska standards, reasonably priced (about $150/night). They also rent cars (actually SUVs) for $100/day.

Anyone with additional tips and suggestions? Thanks!

Juneau, Alaska
posts: 91
reviews: 140
9. Re: Planning a summer visit to Nome

Definitely stay at the Aurora Inn, it is the only decent hotel in town. I lived in Nome for five years and 3 days seems about right. You can easily waste a day wandering around town visiting the museum, the beach (you can pan for gold if you want), the various bits of abandoned mining equipment. Unlike a lot of other rural "cities," you actually can walk in Nome easily. Not that there are a tone of sidewalks, but it is laid out on a grid and fairly compact.

As Since_71 said, you can drive to Teller from Nome. Any of the 3 roads should be passable with a rental truck (usually an SUV like an Escape or 4-Runner). The Kougarak Road straight north is probably the prettiest road, heading roughly 86 miles into the middle of the Seward Peninsula. You stand a good chance of seeing musk oxen and caribou/reindeer on this road. The third road out of town runs along east beach to Cape Nome and Solomon, and from there to the weekend community of Council. It's pretty, but there honestly isn't all that much to do along it (save some awesome views, a few abandoned dredges, and a fishing). That being said, it was my favorite road. Most of the rivers you pass you can fish on, just check the regs. You can find trophy grayling in the rivers around Nome without too much trouble.

My suggested itinerary would be:

Day 1 - wander about town visiting the museum, end of the Iditarod Trail, etc... Good places to eat are Airport Pizza (near the Safeway) or the Polar Cub Cafe. Less adventurous would be Subway. I'd stay away from the Chinese places unless you're really jonsing for it.

Day 2 - stock up on goodies at Hansons or AC and drive the Teller Road. Make sure you tell the front desk where you are going and when you expect to be home. There are cell phones in Nome, but you wont get reception out the road if you break down. They send someone to look for you if your not back when you said you'd be.

Day 3 - Drive the Kougarak Road. Take a picnic lunch and some fishing rods.

Hope it helps! Nome is a great place!

Philadelphia, PA
posts: 606
reviews: 524
10. Re: Planning a summer visit to Nome

Thanks! Sounds like great suggestions, Nomeman. We've got our airline tickets and will be staying at the Aurora Inn in August. They've arranged an SUV rental for us, so we'll definitely do the roads.

I didn't realize there was a Safeway in Nome. I assume the prices are similar to other Alaska Safeways? If so, it makes me think we don't really need to bring any food with us.

We'd love to do a little fishing in Nome but I don't think it would make sense to bring rods with us. Is there any way to rent/borrow rods in Nome?

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