Roadtrippin’ 2022: Visiting the historic Safety Roadhouse

Roadtrippin’ 2022: Visiting the historic Safety Roadhouse
Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 5:59 PM AKDT
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NOME, Alaska (KTUU) - For most Alaskans, we tend to think of Nome, in winter, as the place where the Iditarod ends. In spring and summer, it has a completely different feel. In winter, it’s easy to forget, it’s a town right on the ocean. With sandy beaches and the soothing sounds of waves, it’s not something you forget in spring.

For our Nome Roadtrippin’ adventure, we headed out on the Nome-Council Highway. Driftwood litters the grassy sides of the road, twisted tree limbs left by powerful storms that batter the Seward Peninsula and if you stop and take a look, you can see tiny tundra flowers bringing a pop of color to the spring grasses.

Our destination is the Safety Roadhouse. If you follow the Iditarod, you know Safety is the last stop before Nome.

“The first mushers that come through, they don’t stop long enough to sign their name and they’re gone,” said Ginny Emmons, the co-owner of the Safety Roadhouse, which she and two of her siblings inherited from their father.

“Dad had it for 30-some years, kind of his retirement little thing to do,” Emmons said.

Though it’s most famous for being the last checkpoint on the Iditarod, the Safety Roadhouse is open during the summer and provides a welcome break on the road for a variety of visitors.

“We get birdwatchers, local people I think, especially weekends, that camp out in this area, and then local people going out for a drive,” said Emmons. “Or people going to Council to their camps, they stop in. It’s a mixture. People like to get out for a drive and it’s not too far out of town — 22 miles.”

The building on the site isn’t the first or second version.

“I think this is like the fourth one that’s in, that’s on this site. The one before this burned. The caretaker had gone to town for something and left the stove running, which should have been OK, but it wasn’t and the place burned down, to the ground. And so dad brought this building out in, I believe, four sections. Brought each piece out and connected them up and got it open again,” Emmons said.

The walls are marked with food bags from well-known Iditarod mushers, pictures, and of course, signed dollar bills.

“We’re running out of room,” said Emmons, looking at the bills stapled to the walls. “They’re on the ceiling now and are going into the backroom now and just in the bathrooms. Everywhere everybody can find a spot.”

So if you want to take a drive — just 22 miles — down a pretty good road, check out the Safety Roadhouse and take a moment to stop and dip your toes into the Norton Sound.

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