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Department of the Air Force
2650 Spaatz Drive
Ellsworth AFB, SD 57706
Currently, Rapid City's cost of living is slightly less than the 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. Due to the lack of housing in the area, the housing market is tough compared to the rest of South Dakota.
Please work with your supervisor to get locations and possible places to look into.
The on-base housing can be booked out for a few months. So please be aware of that and make plans ahead of time.
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 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 Airman 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 8th Air Force under Air Force Global Strike Command. The 28th Bomb Wing guarantees combat power for America. Every world class Airman sets the standard for sustaining our people, generating our aircraft, maintaining our equipment, defending our base, and operating our network - with an unwavering focus on expeditionary combat power. The 28th Bomb Wing is home to one of only two B-1B bases in the world. In 2012, the base began flying MQ-9 Reaper missions.
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 over 12,000, and Rapid City, whose population is over 76,000 as of September 2022.
Ellsworth AFB serves approximately 3,611 military members, 3,879 family members, 2,596 retirees and 420 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 West river, and the second largest employer in the State.
There is no state income tax and housing can be somewhat expensive/difficult to obtain, although 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. Some Lyfts and Uber drivers cannot 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.