The Minuteman Missile Historic Site is a very unique place to visit. During the Cold War, Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) were hidden throughout the Great Plains. Air Force personnel were stationed in launch control facilities 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Nuclear missiles could be launched at a moment’s notice.
The Minuteman Missile National Historic Site preserves a decommissioned missile silo and launch control facility in South Dakota. And, it is open to visitors. I think this is WAY COOL!
The Minuteman Missile Historic Site is located near Philip, South Dakota. We stopped on our way from Custer State Park to Badlands National Park.
The site actually consists of three separate locations: The Minuteman Missile Visitor Center, Launch Control Facility Delta-01, and Launch Facility Delta-09 (Missile Silo).
From the visitor center, it is about a 5-mile drive west on Interstate 90 to the launch control facility and then another 10 miles on Interstate 90 to the missile silo.
Launch Control Facility Delta-01
If it weren’t for the security fence, this house might just look like an ordinary home. However, this unassuming structure housed a Launch Control Facility. Air Force personnel charged with guarding and overseeing 10 missile silos lived and worked here.
While the facility topside looks relatively standard, the Launch Control Center (LCC) was anything but. Located 31 feet below the ground, two missileers behind an 8-ton blast door sat ready to launch if called upon.
Launch Facility Delta-09 (Missile Silo)
Hidden in the middle of a pasture is Launch Facility Delta-09, a missile silo. A short walk through a few gates, and you’ll be able to look down into the silo and see a missile.
Delta-09 is just one of the 150 missiles scattered throughout South Dakota from 1963 to the early 1990s. WOW!
Minuteman Missile Tours
I really love a tour, particularly one of a historical site. Fortunately, the Minuteman Missile site has three tour options: a guided tour, audio tours, and virtual tours.
On-site guided tours are available. However, you should make reservations well in advance. We tried unsuccessfully to get reservations for two different trips.
The second option is the audio tour. The audio tour includes both the missile silo and the launch facility. We took this tour during our visit.
The easiest way to tour the site is the virtual tour. This tour offers fantastic 360-degree access to the site.
The Minuteman Missile National Historic Site is a great place to really understand the Cold War’s significance and the proverbial bullet we all dodged. It truly brings history to life.