AFB Tour – Minuteman II Missile Silo & New Alpine Friends (Ellsworth AFB FamCamp, Box Elder SD)

It was overcast all day Tuesday which is a nice break from the recent heat.  Although, we could do without these annoying wind gusts.

We decided to stay yet another day here at the Ellsworth AFB FamCamp overflow lot for a couple reasons; #1) we still haven’t decided where to go next in the short time we have left before we need to take our grandson back to COS for the beginning of the school year; and #2) I received a message from Carol & Noel Peck who are fellow Alpine Coach owners and blog readers.  (It’s good to know someone out there reads the blog)  🙂  They just arrived in Rapid City with relatives (grandkids included) and suggested we get together if possible.  Now, we couldn’t say no to that… so I responded to Carol and we set up a tentative 4PM “Happy Hour” get-together at their campground.  But, more on that later…

With some time to kill today before our 4PM date; we jumped in the Silverado to go to the FamCamp office and pay $10 for another night.  But first, we closed up the slides on the Coach to prevent the slide-out awnings from getting ripped up by the annoying wind gusts.  I also ran the satellite dish down to prevent any wind damage.

Then we went back outside the main gate to the South Dakota Air & Space Museum again.  You may recall from my last post (click HERE), that we already visited the museum and the outside static displays yesterday, but it was too late in the day to take the bus tour.  Well, now we had the opportunity…


The tour cost us $21 but we figured it would be worth it to get a narrated tour of the base and to go inside a Minuteman II Missile Silo.

Information sign on the Ellsworth AFB Bus Tour and Minuteman II Silo visit.

We just missed the bus for the 1PM tour and had to wait ~45 minutes for the 2PM tour, so we walked through the museum again and examined some of the displays more closely.  Our grandson Kaan tried on one of the children’s bomber jackets in the gift shop; looks good on him, right?  Send money mom…

Kaan tried on a jacket in the gift store while we were waiting for the tour.

Our tour bus…


Our tour guide for the hour-long bus tour…


According to my good friend Wikipedia: “The host unit at Ellsworth is the 28th Bomb Wing (28 BW) assigned to the Air Combat Command’s Twelfth Air Force. The 28 BW is one of only two B-1B Lancer strategic bomber wings in the United States Air Force, the other being the 7th Bomb Wing at Dyess AFB, Texas.”  (Click HERE for more info)

With the air conditioner running at the back of the mini-bus, it was difficult to hear the nice elderly gentleman that was our guide for the tour.  And honestly, we were a little disappointed with the AFB portion of the tour… our guide simply pointed out the obvious, i.e., admin building, water tower, sewer treatment facility, bowling alley, BX, etc., etc.,  I guess we were expecting to see the bomber hangars at a closer distance, maintenance facilities, ammo bunkers, and so on… but it wasn’t to be.  I suppose this tour is designed more for the average civilian that maybe hasn’t even seen a military base before. 

Kaan and Stilla on the Ellsworth AFB and Minuteman II missile silo tour-bus.

When we got to the Minuteman II silo, we found out that it’s a training facility and was never operational.  But it was still cool to see…  Click HERE for a youtube video tour of this actual silo and HERE for more history on the missiles at Ellsworth AFB.

Our tour guide explains how the silo was accessed.
Support vehicle (security) for the Minuteman II missile.
Support vehicle (transporter erector) for the Minuteman II missile.

Our tour-guide explained the operation of the silo door.


We went down a stairwell to access the silo.  A “real” silo would not have these stairs, just a small access tube with a ladder.


Stilla in the stairwell to the silo.
Inside the Minuteman II silo.

And here’s the Minuteman II missile sitting in it’s silo…

Minuteman II missile at the Ellsworth AFB training facility.
Minuteman II missile at the Ellsworth AFB training facility.

We could view the missile through the cut-outs in the silo wall.


This is the access tube that would be used at an actual Minuteman II missile silo.  Luckily for us, we had a stairwell at this training facility.


Minuteman II missile at the Ellsworth AFB training facility.
Access lift for maintenance inside the silo. Notice the rollers against the side walls.

Back up top, we briefly toured the support trailer parked above the silo that was used to arm the missile.

Support trailer for arming the missile. Access port is underneath.
Inside the support trailer for arming the missile. Access port is in the middle of the floor.

When we got back to the museum entrance at the end of our tour, our tour-guide mentioned that this B-25 of “Doolittle Raiders” fame was General Eisenhower’s personal transport plane.  I must not have read the sign the first time we went through the aircraft display(s) and didn’t know this bit of trivia when I posted previously.  I thought it was historically significant and interesting, so here you are:



By now, it was time to go visit our fellow Alpine Coach friends Noel & Carol Peck.  They have a membership at Hart Ranch located just south of Rapid City off of 79.


We arrived at the Hart Ranch Resort and stopped at the entrance shack to get a pass.  The resort is “members only” and they have to keep out the riff-raff, like us 🙂


What a nice resort/campground!  They have everything here… even a gas station!   We quickly found Noel & Carol’s Alpine Coach…

Noel & Carol Peck’s Alpine Coach at Hart Ranch.
Noel’s nice-looking Heritage Softail. He also has an Ultra-Classic parked here.

We get to meet the nicest people at the nicest places… here’s Noel, Carol, myself, and Stilla inside their Coach.


It was great meeting Noel and Carol!  They are also Alpine SoCal members but we haven’t had the opportunity to meet them at any of the Alpine Coach-related rallies we’ve been to in recent years, although we have mutual friends.  We visited for a while over adult beverages and got acquainted.  They plan to stay here during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.  Noel’s son is parked next to them here at the resort and even has a hot rod (sorry no pic) that they can enjoy touring around in… must be nice 🙂

We enjoyed our quality time with them before we had to head back.  Carol even shared a couple of nice destinations that we noted for future reference.


It was great meeting you, Noel & Carol… hope to see you again soon at the next rally or down the road!  Stay in touch 🙂

We drove back to the Coach at Ellsworth AFB and relaxed for the rest of the evening.

We’re still not sure where we’ll end up tomorrow… check back to see.