In for a goose-bump inducing blast from the past? A relic of the Cold War, the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site serves as a historical reminder of what could have happened. Located in close proximity to Badlands National Park and an hour’s drive from Rapid City, this silo was one of hundreds nuclear missile sites deactivated in 1991 and the only silo in South Dakota designated by Congress as a National Historic Site. These grounds, unlike any other in the country, transport visitors back in time to the Cold War Era for an understanding of what it was like living, working and waiting in the facility for a launch command that had the power to destroy the world.
Philip, SD 57567
In the 1960’s, a total of 1,000 nuclear missiles were placed in the Great Plains – 150 in western South Dakota alone. The missiles were placed in this region due to the short distance to the Soviet Union, extended warning time if submarines launched off the U.S. coasts and sparse population centers providing less lives at risk from nuclear attack.
The Minuteman Missile National Historic Site includes a Minuteman II nuclear missile fully operational from 1963-1991. With a range of up to 7,500 miles, this generation of nuclear missiles could cause destruction almost anywhere on earth with placement near 900 yards of its intended target. It was so powerful that the missiles warhead could create sixty-six times more technological terror than the atomic bomb that crippled Heroshima, Japan before the end of World War II.
Minuteman Missile National Historic Site offers underground tours for visitors to experience the silo and control rooms. Each tour lasts approximately 30 minutes. Guided tours are offered first come, first served with reduced tours in the winter.
DELTA-01 LAUNCH CONTROL FACILITY
The Delta-01 Launch Control Facility tour is located four minutes west of park headquarters. The tour includes a topside support building and an underground control center capsule, located 31 feet below the surface. Equipped with a bunker, the control center capsule is accessed by elevator, ladder and a narrow passageway. This Minuteman Missile control center remotely commanded and controlled 10 nuclear missiles.
All Delta-01 tours require advanced reservation and an amenity fee. Same day tours are not available.
DELTA-09 LAUNCH FACILITY (MISSILE SILO)
The Delta-09 Launch Facility houses a Minuteman II nuclear missile in an underground missile silo on the edge of Badlands National Park, 15 minutes away from park headquarters. Once fully operational, this missile could send a nuclear weapon to the Soviet Union in 30 minutes. This tour does not take place underground; rather the missile is visible through a glass enclosing.
Minuteman Missile National Historic Site is open year round, seven days a week during the summer from 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m and Monday-Friday during the winter with reduced hours.
The visitor center at Minuteman Missile National Historic Site is located off I-90 and provides stories and challenges of the Cold War. Explore museum-like exhibits and watch educational videos. A new park orientation video is expected to premiere in early 2018.
The Minuteman Missile Site participates in the National Park Services Junior Ranger Program.
For more information, call 605-433-5552 or visit the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site page on the National Park Service website.