Currently, Rapid City's cost of living is slightly less than the national average but is generally higher than the average for the rest of South Dakota. Major industries include agriculture, tourism, defense, health care, and financial services. Housing costs are relatively high compared to other aspects of cost of living. New homes and apartment complexes are being built in the Rapid City and Box Elder areas as the community is working hard to mitigate the lack of housing in the area.
The 28th CES Military Housing Office (MHO) is available to help identify suitable housing for all personnel assigned to Ellsworth AFB. MHO will provide a welcome packet containing detailed information for both off-base and on-base residences, along with contact information for local property managers, schools, and other helpful information on the local area.
Housing on Ellsworth AFB is in high demand and in most cases a home will not be available immediately upon arrival. For questions on projected wait times for on base housing, please contact Balfour Beatty Communities directly at 605-929-9000. Wait times vary between category and size of home. Most accurate waitlist projections are given within 30-45 days of arrival.
Documents to Handcarry
Copies of orders, phone numbers of family, friends, your sponsor, duplicates of luggage/car/other important keys, home inventory of household goods (plus pictures or videos and receipts), medical and dental records, cash and small valuables.
Passports and Visas
Ensure member and/or dependents have the required passports and/or visa prior to final out-processing. Member and/or dependents are not allowed to final out-process without the required passports/visas in hand for themselves (if applicable) and/or dependents. Members electing the accompanied tour will not be permitted to out-process without having the required passports/visas in hand for themselves (if applicable) and/or dependents. These actions are necessary to prevent unforeseen hardships for the military members and their families, and assure Members have appropriate passports/visas for themselves (if applicable) and/or dependents.
Peculiarities Pertaining to the Area
We have a diverse climate so pack for all seasons. The Black Hills profoundly effects our weather. We boast a lot of sunshine and have a very mild climate for a northern state. Yet, we've experienced temperatures ranging from -1 degree (with the wind at 40 to 60 miles per hour, giving us a wind chill factor of approximately -59 degrees below freezing) to a balmy 73 degrees in December! Be prepared (anything is possible) for climate extremes regardless of the calendar season. During the tourist season (April through September), you may notice an increase in gasoline prices, and even food. The same holds true for hotel/motel prices, which can be very high, especially during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. From August through September, the entire Rapid City area sees a multitude of visitors. They come for the Central States Fair and for the world famous Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Both of these events draw large crowds which can fill our local motels and hotels. All personnel PCSing into the area during this peak tourist season need to ensure Lodging (TLF) or hotel/motel reservations are confirmed. If you have any questions, contact your sponsor or the Ellsworth Airman and Family Readiness Center.
In Case of Emergency
If you encounter problems while en route to Ellsworth AFB that may cause you to arrive later than your reporting date, contact your sponsor. You may also contact the nearest military base Military and Family Readiness Center or the nearest Red Cross office. In time of a financial emergency in transit, the Air Force Aid Society may be able to assist you. Contact the nearest military installation or Red Cross office.
Ellsworth has a diverse climate so pack for all seasons. In 2014, Rapid City was named #1 with the Most Unpredictable Weather. The temperature might be 30 degrees in January - or just as easily -12 degrees. It is snowy, windy, and prone to big, unexpected snow storms. Thunderstorms occur 25 percent of days from July through September, more than the national average. So BE PREPARED!
During the tourist season (April through September), you'll begin to notice increases in gasoline, as well as hotel/motels. From August through September, the entire Rapid City area sees a multitude of visitors. They come for the Central States Fair and for the world famous Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Both of these events draw large crowds which can fill our local motels and hotels, and raise rates substantially . All personnel PCSing into the area during this peak tourist season need to ensure Lodging (TLF) or hotel/motel reservations, and cost are confirmed.
Defense Service Network (DSN) Dialing Instructions
The DSN is the provider of long-distance communications service for the Department of Defense (DoD). Every installation has a special DSN number and the numbers vary by world-wide location. In order to place a call using DSN, the caller must be using a military phone on an installation. Cell phones cannot dial DSN numbers. When dialing a DSN number from a United States installation to another United States installation, it is unnecessary to dial the DSN 312 area code. When dialing a DSN number to/from overseas locations, the DSN area code of 312 must be included. Please note that long distance/cell phone charges may be incurred.
The 28th Bomb Wing is assigned to the 8th Air Force under Air Force Global Strike Command. The mission of the 28th Bomb Wing is to put bombs on target. The 28th Bomb Wing is home to 27 B-1B Lancers, and in 2012 began flying MQ-9 Reaper missions. The 89th Attack Squadron is a tenant unit at Ellsworth Air Force Base assigned to Air Combat Command.
The 28th Bomb Wing is divided into the 28th Operations Group, the 28th Maintenance Group, the 28th Mission Support Group and the 28th Medical Group.
The 28th Bomb Wing commander's staff consists of a deputy commander, an executive officer, secretary, director of staff, command chief master sergeant, wing inspector general, historian, information management, protocol, public affairs, legal office, chapel, equal opportunity, wing plans, treaty compliance, safety, antiterrorism, information protection, sexual assault response coordinator, retiree activities office and the 28th Comptroller Squadron.
28TH MAINTENANCE GROUP:
28TH MEDICAL GROUP:
28TH MISSION SUPPORT GROUP:
28TH OPERATIONS GROUP:
Ellsworth was initially opened as the Rapid City Army Air Base in September 1942, and was a training base for the B-17 "Flying Fortress." In June 1953, the base was renamed Ellsworth Air Force Base in honor of Brig. Gen. Richard E. Ellsworth, commander of the 28th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, who was killed in March 1953, when his RB-36 crashed in Newfoundland. President Dwight D. Eisenhower dedicated the base in honor of General Ellsworth. For more on Ellsworth's history, visit the installation's homepage.
Ellsworth's two sister cities are Box Elder, whose population is 12,931, and Rapid City, whose population is over 76,728 as of March 2023.
Ellsworth AFB serves approximately a population of 15,840, with 3,300 military members, 3,720 family members, 8,100 retirees and 720 civilians.
Ellsworth AFB is located just outside of Box Elder, South Dakota. Rapid City is the nearest city (10 miles away).
The military is the largest employer in the western part of the state (West River), and the second largest employer in the State.
There is no state income tax and housing costs have increased. There is a housing boom in progress, as the Box Elder area is rapidly growing.
Directions if Driving
Ellsworth is located 10 miles east of Rapid City on Interstate 90. There are two exits that service Ellsworth -- Exit 63 and Exit 67B. New arrivals should use Exit 67B.
Directions from Airport
Travel on route 44 west to Interstate bypass (enter with a left turn). Exit right onto Interstate 90 east. Travel east on Interstate 90 until you reach either Exit 63 or 67B.
Currently the installation does not have any shuttle services. Not all Lyft and Uber drivers can access the base.
For any travel questions for the base, please contact the 28th Logistics Readiness Squadron at 605-385-2910.
605-385-1000 or DSN 312-675-1000.