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Introducing Nome

Nome, in so many ways, is the Alaskan archetype: a rough-hewn, fun-loving, undying Wild West ghost town, thriving at the uttermost edge of the planet. With America's biggest concentration of Whites north of the tree line, the town is at once familiar and exotic: on one hand, with paved streets, grassy public squares, many saloons (more than in the rest of Bush Alaska combined) and palpable gold-rush history, it has the infrastructure like the rural West.

On the flipside, there's the setting: hard against the ice-choked Bering Sea, cut off from the continental road system, closer to Siberia than to Anchorage, and patrolled by polar creatures like musk oxen and reindeer.

Of the three major towns in the Bush, Nome, Kotzebue and Barrow, Nome is the most affordable and best setup for travelers. It has a range of accommodations, from topnotch hotels to free camping on the beach, a fine visitors center, and friendly watering holes in which to meet the locals. It lacks the vibrant aboriginal culture of Kotzebue and Barrow, but Nome has something else the other two don't: roads. No trip to Nome would be complete without renting a pickup truck to see the remarkable outlying region.