Established by Congress in 1999, the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site consists of a nuclear missile silo and launch control facility. Minuteman Missile National Historic Site protects two facilities that were once part of a Minuteman Missile field that covered the far western portion of South Dakota from 1963 through the early 1990s. It was from this innocuous, peaceful prairie landscape just outside of the Badlands National Park that United States Air Force officers could have launched intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) at targets in the Soviet Union. This site was one of many where nuclear war with the Soviet Union was only a key turn away.
Seldom seen by civilians, the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site allows access to an up-close view of an ICBM. Visitors are then guided through the launch control capsule and topside support structures of a Minuteman II launch control facility known as Delta-01. Delta-01 was part of the 44th Missile wing and was operated by crews from the nearby Ellsworth Air Force Base.
For 30 years, this quiet patch of land outside of the Badlands contained a missile field that operated 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for 365 days a year, for 30 years. The Badlands National Park is known for some of the harshest weather conditions in the country. From the brutal summer heat to the bitter winter cold of South Dakota, the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site maintained operational status of the missiles at all times. While these missiles lay waiting to unleash their tremendous power, local landowners and members of small towns literally lived right next to these nuclear weapons.
The purpose of the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site is to tell the story of the Minuteman Missile program and nuclear deterrence during the Cold War. Delta-01 and Delta-09 are striking examples of the alert status of United States nuclear forces during this tense period in United States history. The Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, along with the exhibits in the Minuteman Missile Visitor Center, seek to educate visitors and help them understand a very recent chapter in both American and World History.
The Minuteman Missile National Historic Site is a great opportunity for visitors to reflect on an era filled with uncertainty against the backdrop of a quiet, peaceful prairie that held the deadly power to destroy the world. The Minuteman Missile National Historic Site provides an amazing public venue for providing thought-provoking questions and scenarios that showcase the challenges and paradoxes of Cold War. The exhibits at the site share stories of the technology that made it possible, along with the service men and women, the citizens on both sides who feared the worst, the call for civil defense, and the leaders at home and abroad who led the world to the brink and thankfully back.
Fees & Reservations
There is no entry fee to visit Minuteman Missile National Historic Site.
Because Minuteman Missile charges no entry fee, they do not sell National Park passes. Passes can be purchased at the northeast entrance to Badlands National Park, which is four miles south of the Minuteman Missile Visitor Center.
Delta-01 Tour Tickets
All tours of the Delta-01 Launch Control Facility require advanced reservations. Reservations can be made online or by phone at 866-601-5129.
Tour Fees and Reservations
All tours of the Delta-01 Launch Control Facility require advanced reservations and an amenity fee. Reservations can be made online or by phone at 866-601-5129.
Delta-01 Tour Fee
- $6.00 - Adult age 17 & over
- $4.00 - Youth ages 6-16
Tour Details: This tour lasts thirty minutes. The tour begins and ends at the entry gate to the Delta-01 compound. The tour route proceeds with a walk through of the grounds and topside support building before descending in the original elevator 31 feet to enter the underground control center. All tour participants must be able to be physically capable of climbing two 15 foot ladders unassisted in the event of an elevator failure.