Nome is becoming a well-known as a treasure for birders. The city is bounded by tundra on three sides and the Bering Sea coast on the other. Once the ice begins to break up, migration begins. Virtually the entire area of the Seward Peninsula that is accessible by road from Nome is comprised of extremely valuable nesting areas for many bird species, including most North American waterfowl. You’ll even find quality birding on wetlands and beaches right in town.

Aside from the variety of species in the area, there are a few things that make birding here unique:

More color – It’s like you’ve seen a whole new bird when you finally spot a familiar species in its colorful breeding plumage (especially the males).

Accidentals and foreigners ­– Siberia is close, which means you might see species that aren’t normally found in the U.S., even in Alaska.

Fewer neck aches – Males marking their territory usually sit at the tops of trees. But in Nome, the tallest “trees” are generally willow and alders. This provides a better view and you don’t have to crane your neck so far. Sometimes they are right at eye level.

Best time for Birding
Birding on the Nome Road System
Birding in Town
Guided Options: Birding on a Budget
What to Know Before You Go

Best time for Birding

Spring and break-up come late to Nome, near the end of May. The best time for birding in and around Nome is normally in early June. At that time, the melting ice along the southern Seward Peninsula forms migrant traps and birding from the road system is most productive. This season is called break-up in Alaska. Occasionally roads are closed because of flooding or washouts. Travelers should plan for all sorts of weather, but it is this changeable climate that brings in the rare migrant species and settles them into small ponds to wait for better flying weather. This is also the time of year when changing weather systems bring large numbers of accidentals to the area. Snow Buntings and McKay’s Buntings are best seen during the winter through early spring at a couple of feeders in Nome and Icy View (two miles north of Nome on the Nome-Teller Road). In March and April, Snow Buntings are plentiful around town but by summer scatter to nesting habitat, while McKay’s Buntings leave the Seward Peninsula for breeding. Many species take advantage of the long days and abundant food sources to nest and raise young. Birding is good into mid-August when migration is in full swing.

Birding on the Nome Road System

An epic birding adventure awaits on the Nome road system, with different species to be found along the three main roads going out of Nome. This is a trip of a lifetime for many birders, who are often surprised that they can add dozens of new species to their life lists in just a few days. Here are the most popular spots on each of Nome’s three main road systems:

Safety Sound Lagoon and Council

Serious birders must take in Safety Sound, where thousands of migratory birds feed and rest in late May. Less than twenty miles from Nome on the Nome-Council Road, Safety Sound is a migrant trap before breakup. Observers have noted Emperor Geese, and Stellar's Eiders in this area. Off-shore in open patches of water, called leads, ringed seal often bask on ice ledges. These leads also concentrate migrating waterfowl: Scoters, Eiders, Harlequin Ducks, Long-Tailed Ducks, Arctic and Pacific Loons and, occasionally, Yellow-Billed Loons. Tufted and Horned Puffins, Common Murres, and Pelagic Cormorant are are all possibilities in this bird rich area. The terminus of this road is Council, and is the only place accessible from Nome where boreal species may be found.

Kougarok Road

The star of this route has got to be the Bristle-thighed curlew, a vulnerable species that nests in Alaska and winters in Hawai’i and other warmer places. You can usually find Bristle-thighed curlews by parking at Mile 72 and hiking up the hill to your left. Though not steep, the hike is somewhat strenuous and can be marshy in places, so wear boots and take your time. Curlew nest on the slopes of the hill. Whimbrels, nearly identical in appearance, also make this hill their home, so be familiar with the calls and field marks of both species. Elsewhere along the Kougarok Road, cliffs provide nesting habitat for Gyr Falcon, Golden Eagles, and Peregrine Falcons. The high, rocky ridges also boast nesting Wheatears. Bluethroats can be found in brushy areas along the road, and Wandering Tattlers are often seen foraging along creeks and rivers, so be sure to stop at bridges to look around.

Wooley Lagoon

The target species for a drive on the side road to Woolley Lagoon is the Black-Bellied Plover. This is the only place on the road system where this species can reliably be found. The 8-mile side trip begins at Mile 40 of the Nome-Teller Road, and ends at the lagoon, which is on private property. Visitors are asked to stay within 50 feet of either side of the road.

Birding in Town

In Nome without a car? You can have a successful birding adventure right in town, on foot or by taxi. Many species are attracted to Nome’s ponds, wetlands and beaches. These spots can be worth the walk; Cemetery Pond, East End Park, and the Mouth of the Nome River.

Guided Options: Birding on a Budget

If you’re coming to Nome and have an interest in birds, chances are that you’ve already booked a guided tour with a major birding organization. These trips offer knowledgeable guides and fellow travelers who are also birding enthusiasts.

However, they can also be expensive. If you’re looking to bird on a budget, or if you’re just getting into birding, you can still have a great time in Nome, spotting many species on your own at the spots listed below, or with the assistance of affordable local guides.

  • If you’d like more local assistance (and a driver who knows just where to go), consider hiring a local tour guide like Richard Beneville of Nome Discovery Tours. Though not a birder himself, Richard can arrange van transportation and logistics. He knows the best sighting locations and may be able to introduce you to local birding experts.
  • The Northwest Campus of the University of Alaska Fairbanks offers local birding field trips each spring for a much lower fee than you’ll find with dedicated birding outfits. For less then $50, you get a day-long (7 am to 7 pm) guided trip. These are usually on the last weekend in May and first weekend in June. Destinations typically include the coast road to Safety Sound and beyond on one day and to Mile 72 of the Kougarok Road and beyond on another day. It’s typical to spot between 65 and 80 species on each of these field trips.

Before you go

  • If you’re planning a trip to Nome in the height of birding season, be sure to reserve lodging well in advance. Large birding groups are organized months ahead of time, so independently travelers are encouraged to book early.
  • Download the Nome Bird Checklist, which serves both as a guide and as a log of species you observed.
  • Read postings in the Beringia Birders Yahoo Group for insight into what other birders are finding in Nome and the surrounding areas.
  • Check the “birding board” at the Nome Visitors Center and at the Aurora Inn counter to see what species have been spotted lately. Be sure and report your own sightings at these spots, too.

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Points of Interest

Birding in Town

The bridge marks a mix­ing zone where fresh riv­er water meets tidal salt water and turns brack­ish. This cre­ates a blend of water types and habi­tats and attracts many dif­fer­ent birds to areas of open water or the mud-bar edges of islands. Look for geese, cranes, shore­birds, and gulls in good num­bers, even unusu­al species like Arc­tic loon, red knot, black-tailed god­wit, red-necked stint, ivory gull, and white wag­tail. Also spot spawn­ing salmon.   ...more

Bor­der­ing the ceme­tery hill to the north, at the inter­sec­tion of Cen­ter Creek Road and the west exten­sion of the Nome ByPass Road, a large man-made pond from plac­er min­ing oper­a­tions that is slow­ly becom­ing veg­e­tat­ed is a good place to find a few species of nest­ing water­birds. Red-necked grebe, glau­cous gull, greater scaup, north­ern shov­el­er, and green-winged teal may be found near the cen­ter and edges of the pond. 

These stops on the east edge of Nome (described in more detail in the Coun­cil Road sec­tion) offer fresh­wa­ter ponds adja­cent to the marine water coast­line that attract a wide vari­ety of spring migrant water­birds and shore­birds as the ice is melt­ing in late May and ear­ly June. The area is worth check­ing reg­u­lar­ly because arriv­ing species often make a short stop before mov­ing inland. By mid-sum­mer, ear­ly depart­ing shore­birds gath­er to feed and  ...more

Anvil Rock perch­es above Nome, an ear­ly land­mark for gold min­ers and an easy hike for those who want to take in spec­tac­u­lar views of Nome, the Bering Sea, and the Kiglu­aik Moun­tains. Its resem­blance to a blacksmith’s anvil gen­er­at­ed names for many near­by land­scape fea­tures, includ­ing Anvil Moun­tain and Anvil Creek. The hike also promis­es a good chance to see musk oxen, birds, and maybe even rein­deer or red fox.  ...more

Return­ing south of the road to the air­port (Sep­pala Avenue) and west of the Nome port, the beach front area offers a good view of the marine waters of Nor­ton Sound and the barge dock­ing area built of quar­ried rock from Cape Nome. Depend­ing on the sea­son, the open ocean view will be punc­tu­at­ed with pass­ing flocks of eiders, brant, scot­ers, mur­res, auk­lets, cor­morants, and oth­er seabirds.

Look for loons, mer­gansers, gulls, terns, and kit­ti­wakes where the Snake Riv­er flows into the Nome har­bor area, either close to the beach or in the salt and fresh water mix­ing zone. When ice cov­ers the har­bor dur­ing the spring thaw, the plume of riv­er melt attracts a mix­ture of arriv­ing species seek­ing open water near the coast. Many birds stay in the area through­out the sum­mer, mak­ing this an impor­tant local hot spot for birdlife.

Skirt the har­bor and walk toward the west side of the port area along Sep­pala Avenue, and you’ll cross the cul­vert where Dry Creek flows into the har­bor. Upstream is a wide area of low­land veg­e­ta­tion. This area is sub­ject to salt water intru­sion dur­ing wind dri­ven high tides, affect­ing the wet­land habi­tat as it reach­es the side slopes of tun­dra and wil­low shrubs. Pud­dle ducks for­age and nest here. Look for shore­birds and oth­er species.

The west flank of Dry Creek leads to the Nome Ceme­tery on a small round­ed hill. The nar­row ceme­tery roads cross tun­dra and wil­low shrub habi­tats that dom­i­nate the area due to the slight rise in ele­va­tion. While being respect­ful of the grave mark­ers, search for north­ern shrike, bohemi­an waxwing, or black-capped chick­adee and enjoy the com­mon tun­dra bird species as well. Don’t be sur­prised if an east­ern yel­low wag­tail fly­ing over­head escorts you  ...more

Near the cen­ter of town along the beach­line, a large satel­lite com­mu­ni­ca­tion dish reg­u­lar­ly attracts nest­ing com­mon raven. In ear­ly March they start build­ing and refur­bish­ing their nest on the sup­port­ing cross-arms. By May the par­ent birds are stand­ing guard or deliv­er­ing food to ever-hun­gry nestlings. The young usu­al­ly leave the nest in late June or July and become a rau­cous trav­el­ing fam­i­ly with an ever-expand­ing range.

In win­ter between Octo­ber and mid-April, buntings clus­ter close to bird feed­ers in the cen­ter of town along Sec­ond Ave. A mix of McKay’s and snow buntings will perch on util­i­ty wires in con­gre­ga­tions of up to 100 birds, close enough for view­ers to see the sub­tle dif­fer­ences in these small snow­birds. Chick­adees, red­polls, and some­times a dark- eyed jun­co also come to the cen­ter of town, most often when fall is eclips­ing into win­ter and again in  ...more

Kougarok Road (Nome-Taylor Highway)

Spring pro­vides some of the best oppor­tu­ni­ties to see semi-domes­tic rein­deer along this sec­tion of road. In sum­mer the dri­ve pro­vides good bird watch­ing for water­fowl, gulls, terns, and tun­dra species.

The land­fill draws many scav­engers. Com­mon raven is abun­dant year round. Glau­cous, glau­cous-winged, her­ring, mew, and — occa­sion­al­ly in sum­mer — slaty-backed gulls show up as well. Red fox is also a fre­quent vis­i­tor to the facility.

A grav­el pit pond may con­tain local nest­ing water­fowl, mew gull, Bonaparte’s gull, and semi­palmat­ed plover. The edges with the tallest wil­lows are a good place to find black­poll war­bler. A large beaver lodge on the banks has helped to fer­til­ize this once ster­ile grav­el pit, which now sup­ports juve­nile coho salmon, Dol­ly Var­den, and Arc­tic grayling.

The Nome Riv­er is a good place to see salmon. Pink and chum salmon spawn in August, coho are usu­al­ly present in August and Sep­tem­ber. Sock­eye salmon, Arc­tic grayling, and Dol­ly Var­den may be present. Look for Arc­tic terns fish­ing, har­le­quin duck and red-breast­ed mer­ganser rid­ing swift water, spot­ted sand­piper or wan­der­ing tat­tler at water­line, and north­ern shrike in the wil­lowed riv­er edges.

This high point in the road gives you an excel­lent view across the val­ley. Three ditch lines from ear­li­er min­ing activ­i­ties are appar­ent on the far side of the val­ley, espe­cial­ly where they cross the exposed rock face of Cape Horn. The ditch­es orig­i­nate near Hud­son Creek about 12 miles upstream. Today these deep, wide gash­es on the hill­side offer cov­er and eas­i­er move­ment for wildlife — espe­cial­ly moose and griz­zly bears.

There are two turn-offs to see rap­tors as you are head­ing down Kougarok rd. The first is a rap­tor nest, and the sec­ond give you a chance to see hawks

Sock­eye salmon migrate up Pil­grim Riv­er to Salmon Lake between late July and mid-August, and some con­tin­ue up the Grand Cen­tral Riv­er as far as the bridge. Griz­zlies are fair­ly com­mon in late sum­mer when spawned-out salmon and ripe berries are abun­dant. Bird­ers watch for har­le­quin duck, red-breast­ed mer­ganser, Amer­i­can dip­per, Bluethroat, yel­low war­bler, Wilson’s war­bler, and Arc­tic warbler.

Head­ing north, an access road on your right leads to a lake­side camp­ground that is main­tained by the Bureau of Land Man­age­ment. It has a sandy beach, pic­nic tables, bar­beque pits, a trash bin, and a restroom that is open dur­ing snow-free months. There is no run­ning water.

At the bot­tom of Gold­en Gate Pass where the road makes a sweep­ing curve to the right, a marked turn-off to the left leads to Pil­grim Hot Springs. The road tra­vers­es pri­vate prop­er­ty and trav­el­ers must obtain per­mis­sion to access before­hand. Although this 7‑mile side trip offers excel­lent vis­tas and access to a unique and his­toric set­ting, sec­tions of the road are very rough and, if flood­ed, may be impas­si­ble. The road sum­mit, 2.5 miles from the  ...more

The Pil­grim Riv­er cross­ing brings you close to groves of cot­ton­wood that are abun­dant in this sec­tion of the val­ley. Look for spawn­ing salmon, moose, and a vari­ety of birds.

Beyond the Pil­grim Riv­er Bridge, the road con­tin­ues uphill and offers sweep­ing views of a net­work of lakes and the mean­der­ing riv­er val­ley. North of the Pil­grim Riv­er drainage is a large hill topped with a series of gran­ite rock out­crop­pings known as Hen and Chick­ens because of its resem­blance to a small flock at cer­tain angles. A cross was placed at the sum­mit in mem­o­ry of a priest who died in a bliz­zard on his way to the orphanage.

The north­ern­most lake is called Swan Lake but sev­er­al lakes in this area may hold a wide vari­ety of birds. Tun­dra swan with cygnets, Cana­da goose, sand­hill crane, north­ern shov­el­er, black scot­er, long-tailed duck, greater and less­er scaup, and can­vas­back fre­quent the ponds. Red-necked grebe build float­ing nest plat­forms. The perime­ter of mead­ow habi­tat with threads of water drainages are good places to find Pacif­ic gold­en-plover. Look for signs  ...more

The Kuz­itrin Riv­er Bridge had its ori­gins in Fair­banks. It was orig­i­nal­ly named the Cush­man Street Bridge when it was built across the Chena Riv­er in the heart of down­town Fair­banks in 1917. In the 1950s the bridge was replaced with a con­crete span and the orig­i­nal met­al bridge was dis­as­sem­bled, shipped down the Chena, Tanana, and Yukon rivers and barged up the Bering Sea coast to Nome. It was hauled in sec­tions up the Nome-Tay­lor High­way and  ...more

Sev­er­al small lakes and ponds sprin­kle the land­scape on either side of the road. Look for a small hillock just beyond the first lake. This lone pin­go ris­es above the sur­round­ing flat tun­dra mead­ow and serves as a con­ve­nient look­out for hunters such as fox­es, wolves, hawks, owls, and jaegers. The soil on the tops of pin­gos is fer­til­ized by preda­tor feces and prey remains and gen­er­al­ly sup­ports lush and diverse vegetation. 

Though built to accom­mo­date the road from Bunker Hill to Tay­lor in the ear­ly 1900s, the bridge is as far as you can go by high­way vehi­cle. From here a rough, unmarked, and some­times impass­able ATV trail leads to Tay­lor where fam­i­ly-owned mines still oper­ate. Look for cana­da goose and white- front­ed goose. Bluethroat can be found on shrub­by riv­er banks. Arc­tic grayling are the most like­ly fish to be seen from the bridge.

Descend­ing into ter­rain increas­ing­ly dom­i­nat­ed by trees and wil­lows, you are more like­ly to see a moose than a muskox. In late sum­mer griz­zlies feed on spawn­ing chum salmon below the Fox Riv­er bridge. Salmon car­cass­es also attract red fox, gulls, and com­mon ravens. Both aban­doned and active beaver lodges and dams are found along the Fox Riv­er drainage. Dol­ly Var­den, Arc­tic grayling, and chum and pink salmon can be seen from the bridge.  ...more

An old road bed lead­ing to a Solomon Riv­er over­look is a good spot to look for salmon, Dol­ly Var­den, and Arc­tic grayling in late July and August. Say’s phoebe will launch from its nest to catch insects. North­ern shrike, har­le­quin duck, spot­ted sand­piper, and wan­der­ing tat­tler are also seen. In some years, the cliff is occu­pied by com­mon raven, rough-legged hawk, or oth­er rap­tors so be care­ful your pres­ence does not dis­turb nest­ing birds. 

Lee’s Dredge, the last dredge to work the Solomon Riv­er, was oper­at­ed by the Lee fam­i­ly until the 1960s. It now pro­vides nest­ing plat­forms for rap­tors and ravens. You may see green-winged teal and phalaropes feed­ing in the dredge pond and song­birds in the sur­round­ing willows.

Shov­el Creek pass­es under the road through a dou­ble cul­vert before it enters the Solomon Riv­er. A year-round spring that feeds the creek near the road keeps the water from freez­ing in win­ter. This attracts dip­pers, beaver, mink, and otter and encour­ages the growth of cot­ton­woods. The spring-fed creek also offers a mod­er­ate amount of spawn­ing habi­tat for pink, chum, and coho salmon in late July and August. Dol­ly Var­den are present but few Arctic  ...more

Gold­en Gate Pass divides the gold-laden creeks and rivers to the south from Pil­grim and Kuz­itrin Rivers. This pass is a migra­tion cor­ri­dor into the Pil­grim Riv­er drainage for the West­ern Arc­tic cari­bou herd in years when they win­ter on the cen­tral Seward Penin­su­la. Amer­i­can gold­en-plover, north­ern wheatear, Amer­i­can pip­it, and Lap­land longspur are com­mon in the tun­dra areas.

Riv­er cross­ing warn­ing! Unlike oth­er braid­ed rivers along the road sys­tem, the Niuk­luk Riv­er flows along a sin­gle broad chan­nel. A large colony of cliff swal­low inhab­its the cliff banks down­stream while tree swal­low nest in aspen cav­i­ties and nest box­es put up by Coun­cil res­i­dents. Osprey, which nest down- stream, may be spot­ted fly­ing over the riv­er. Bald eagle are also asso­ci­at­ed with the riv­er and nest at the Fish Riv­er confluence.  ...more

Nome-Council Highway

These stops on the east edge of Nome (described in more detail in the Coun­cil Road sec­tion) offer fresh­wa­ter ponds adja­cent to the marine water coast­line that attract a wide vari­ety of spring migrant water­birds and shore­birds as the ice is melt­ing in late May and ear­ly June. The area is worth check­ing reg­u­lar­ly because arriv­ing species often make a short stop before mov­ing inland. By mid-sum­mer, ear­ly depart­ing shore­birds gath­er to feed and  ...more

The bridge marks a mix­ing zone where fresh riv­er water meets tidal salt water and turns brack­ish. This cre­ates a blend of water types and habi­tats and attracts many dif­fer­ent birds to areas of open water or the mud-bar edges of islands. Look for geese, cranes, shore­birds, and gulls in good num­bers, even unusu­al species like Arc­tic loon, red knot, black-tailed god­wit, red-necked stint, ivory gull, and white wag­tail. Also spot spawn­ing salmon.   ...more

Safe­ty Lagoon slow­ly nar­rows and mix­es with wet­lands, ponds, and the Bonan­za Riv­er estu­ary. Thou­sands of tun­dra swan move through this area on their spring migra­tion. Breed­ing swans move on to upland ponds to nest and raise their young, while non-breed­ing birds may remain all sum­mer. In the fall, parts of the lagoon and Solomon Riv­er wet­lands turn white with huge groups of swans prepar­ing for fall migration.

In the fall, peo­ple fish for tom­cod from the bridge. Deep div­ing ducks feed in the chan­nel depths of the Bonan­za Riv­er. Sand­hill crane feed on berries, plant shoots, roots, insects, and even small rodents. Red-throat­ed loon and, less com­mon­ly, Pacif­ic loon float the waters.

Approach­ing the East Fork of Solomon Riv­er, a wide pull-off on the left is an excel­lent place to park and scan the slopes and riv­er val­ley for wildlife. North­ern wheatear and Amer­i­can pip­it fre­quent the rocky slopes near­by. Cliff swal­low often build nests on the bridge sup­ports, and ravens and rap­tors occa­sion­al­ly nest in the area. This view of the riv­er makes it easy to find red-breast­ed mer­ganser, har­le­quin duck, tat­tlers, and gulls.

The rocky out­crop across the Solomon Riv­er usu­al­ly hosts an active gold­en eagle nest. Look for a huge tow­er of sticks and splash­es of white­wash and orange lichen in the vicin­i­ty of the nest and sur­round­ing perch­ing sites. Built by eagles and added onto in suc­ces­sive years, the nest i s dis­tinc­tive for its large size, con­struc­tion, and shape. When not occu­pied by eagles, the large nest may be used by gyrfalcons.

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.

Cape Nome is a mas­sive granitic out­crop that is much more resis­tant to weath­er­ing than sur­round­ing lands. Local Alas­ka Native cor­po­ra­tions quar­ry the rock, which is trucked or barged to large-scale con­struc­tion projects up and down the coast. Nome’s sea­wall is built from this gran­ite. Amidst con­sid­er­able con­struc­tion or quar­ry activ­i­ty, birds con­tin­ue to nest or roost on the rock faces. The thick­ly-veg­e­tat­ed slopes attract dense num­bers of  ...more

The cross­ing offers expan­sive views of a vari­ety of creek­side habi­tats, each with its own dis­tinc­tive char­ac­ter­is­tics. In spring the upstream por­tion of the creek is filled with thick lay­ers of glac­i­ered ice that build up from winter’s con­tin­u­al freez­ing of the spring waters that flow year-round into the creek. This late flow of melt water attracts water­bird species long after oth­er areas are ice-free. Drift­wood col­lects in the deep­er pools  ...more

The road junc­tion is marked by ponds and tun­dra mead­ows with­in sight of the coastal beach­line. Loons, red-breast­ed mer­ganser, long-tailed duck, scot­ers, gulls, and Arc­tic tern are com­mon on the marine water and some­times ven­ture inland to ponds or tun­dra tus­socks. Less fre­quent­ly, Aleut­ian tern and long-tailed jaeger may be inter­spersed among perched glau­cous and mew gulls near the road.

Nome - Teller Highway

Nome­henge,” as some of the locals call the four tow­er­ing anten­nas on Anvil Moun­tain above Nome, oper­at­ed dur­ing the height of the Cold War to link remote parts of Alas­ka with the rest of the coun­try. These are the last of 71 White Alice struc­tures, and serve as impor­tant his­toric and geo­graph­ic land­marks in Nome.

Glac­i­er Creek Road runs approx­i­mate­ly 30 miles up the east side of the Snake Riv­er. It becomes a rough four-wheel-dri­ve road after it pass­es the Rock Creek Mine site three miles in and is not main­tained in win­ter. If you look north up the val­ley from Teller Road, you will see the pyra­mid-shaped peak of Mount Osborn, the tallest peak on the Seward Penin­su­la. Look for birds nest­ing in the small lakes on either side of the road.

The Snake Riv­er has a rel­a­tive­ly short drainage that flows out of the south side of the Kiglu­aik Moun­tains. Prime moose, bird­ing, and salmon view­ing habitat. 

Sev­en miles off the coast, Sledge Island is vis­i­ble on clear days from this sec­tion of Teller Road. Orig­i­nal­ly named Ayak, the island was home to about 50 Ayak­mi­ut, who pri­mar­i­ly hunt­ed seals but also wal­rus when those ani­mals migrat­ed close to shore.

The bridge cross­ing gives a good view of birdlife, spawn­ing salmon, and moose. Red-breast­ed mer­ganser and har­le­quin duck like the swift-flow­ing water.

Dri­ving north, the rocky out­crop on your right may host a nest­ing or perch­ing site for rough-legged hawk, gyr­fal­con, and com­mon raven. Look to your left into the creek bot­tom to see an active beaver lodge with sev­er­al dams and ponds.

House Rock and Cab­in Rock are local names for the obvi­ous rock for­ma­tion on the right. Look for Arc­tic ground squir­rel on the dry, upper slopes and for Musk ox on the wind­blown sum­mits. This is also a great bird­ing area.

The steep road grade on either side of Crip­ple Riv­er gives a good overview of the thin thread-like riv­er that runs through the val­ley. Gold min­ing activ­i­ties occurred in the upper trib­u­taries, as evi­denced by the road and hor­i­zon­tal ditch lines. Look for har­le­quin ducks pad­dling swift riv­er cur­rents in late August or Sep­tem­ber, and Pink Salmon swim­ming upstream to spawn.

This 100-foot-wide road is a pub­lic right-of-way that tra­vers­es lands pri­vate­ly owned by the King Island Native Cor­po­ra­tion. It runs eight miles to tra­di­tion­al sum­mer fish­ing camps at Wool­ley Lagoon. Please stay with­in 50 feet of either side of the road. Do not pho­to­graph or trav­el close to lagoon or camps. A pull-off to the right offers views of Moon Moun­tains, a win­ter­ing spot for muskox. Also watch for red fox and black-bel­lied plovers.  ...more

As you approach the Tisuk Riv­er, scan down­stream and across the riv­er for a large nest of sticks on an orange lichen-cov­ered rock out­crop. Built by gold­en eagles, it may be used by gyr­fal­con when not occu­pied by eagles.

The road par­al­lels a some­what nar­row creek val­ley, mak­ing it easy to see water and shore­birds asso­ci­at­ed with flow­ing water as well as the wide vari­ety of song­birds, such as thrush­es, war­blers, and spar­rows that hang out in dense shrubs clus­tered at creek’s edge. Arc­tic grayling, and some­times pink salmon, are found here.

The Blue­stone Riv­er is unlike oth­er riv­er cross­ings along the Teller Road because it flows north­ward to Imu­ruk Basin rather than south to Nor­ton Sound. The riv­er is deeply incised as it cuts through steep moun­tains, cre­at­ing steep, rocky slopes and cliffs. Rough-legged hawk, gold­en eagle, gyr­fal­con, and com­mon raven may nest on near­by rock cliffs

At Teller the road returns to sea-lev­el where the envi­ron­ment is dom­i­nat­ed by marine waters. Look for spot­ted seals on calm days, their heads pop­ping up inquis­i­tive­ly at the tip of the spit. Pelag­ic cor­morant, pigeon guille­mot, horned puf­fin, com­mon eider, and black scot­ers are seen here.

The Sinuk Riv­er is the largest riv­er cross­ing on the Teller Road, and the mag­ni­tude of the val­ley, riv­er chan­nels, crag­gy moun­tains, and rolling tun­dra — all in one panoram­ic vista — is an impres­sive sight. The bridge is a reli­able spot to see salmon on their return upriv­er. Birdlife tends to be those species attract­ed to flow­ing water and grav­el bars, islands, and thick veg­e­ta­tion clus­tered in some sec­tions of the river. 

About a mile fur­ther north on Cen­ter Creek Road, a wet­land mead­ow lies west of the old Nome dump, which is now used as a monofil area for large bulky refuse that does not belong in the san­i­tary land­fill. The monofil area might attract ravens or gulls, but the real gem is the wet­land mead­ow inter­spersed with rem­nant struc­tures from ear­li­er min­ing activ­i­ty. Red­necked phalarope, pin­tail, teal, and scaup are often float­ing on the pond near the road,  ...more