Q: I am planning a driving trip to Alaska and want to know if I can drive to Nome in any combination of roads or ferry. I plan on visiting the Anchorage and Fairbanks areas, too. —Bob
A: I’ve got a little bad news: you cannot drive to Nome! There are no roads leading there, and no ferry service. The only way there is using an Alaska Airlines jet. The good news is that it's not that expensive from Anchorage if you take the Alaska Airlines Nome day or overnight tour (with prices ranging from $499 to $599—a good deal, since the roundtrip flights alone can cost $442).
You might find it fun, however, to spend more time in Nome, in which case you can book your own flights, stay at either stay at either the Aurora Inn or the Nome Nugget Inn. Nome has its big moment every March as the finish line of the Iditarod, but here’s what you can do there other times of year:
• Pan for gold on the beach, which has long been a prospector’s destination. While you won’t get rich, it is fun.
• Explore the villages of the Bering Straits (or even Russia). Take a 30-minute mail-plane flight and you can be walking the dirt pathways of an Eskimo village with no hotels or professional tour guides—just you and friendly villagers.
• Rent a car. The 350 miles of roads radiating from Nome go deep into some of Alaska’s most scenic, pristine country. Pristine here means no trees: you can see forever across a gentle landscape of rolling tundra, crystal clear rivers, and wide sandy beaches. You likely see musk oxen, reindeer, and other wildlife—but not many other cars.
• Go birding. This is also a great area for birdwatching, with more than 150 species flying around.