Leaving Cape Nome, the road passes through the coastal grasslands, dunes, and meadows of a long and narrow barrier island environment. This sandy strip of land divides the protected wetlands and lagoon of Safety Sound from the unprotected marine waters of Norton Sound and the Bering Sea. The close proximity of these waters makes this one of the most dynamic and interesting places for birdlife on the road system. Huge numbers of diverse species arrive at different times to breed and nest, feed throughout the summer, and regroup before migrating south in the fall. The area is named an “Important Bird Area” of North America in recognition of its unique importance for birds.