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Fast Facts

Walkway to Mount Rushmore

Location:  Nestled in the majestic Black Hills, Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., is located 10 miles east of Rapid City and just outside of Box Elder. The base - home to the 28th Bomb Wing - is one of only two B-1B bases in the world. Ellsworth is surrounded by numerous scenic sights. From the picturesque Badlands to the east, to the Black Hills in the west, to the grazing buffalo and pristine lakes of Custer State Park, this is a region of great natural beauty. Legendary sites including Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial, Fort Meade, historic Deadwood and Devil's Tower are a short distance beyond the base's main gate. The area has a rich history that includes Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, General George Custer, Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane and Jack "Crooked Nose" McCall to name but a few. Western South Dakota and the Black Hills offer a myriad of activities, especially for those who enjoy nature and the outdoors. Opportunities for fishing, boating, snow and water skiing, hunting, hiking and camping await those who appreciate being outdoors. Whatever the season, the Ellsworth and the Black Hills can be a wonderful place to work and live. Gallup-Healthways agrees with this statement in their released Well-Being Index for 2014 on February 20, 2015. South Dakota ranked third out of all the fifty states. A holistic definition of well-being and self-reported data from individuals were used as the elements that matter most to well-being: purpose, social, financial, community and physical. It is the most proven, mature and comprehensive measure of well-being in populations. Welcome to South Dakota!

Cost of Living: Rapid City's cost of living is 6.8% less than the national average. Major industries include agriculture, tourism, logging, defense, health care, and financial services. As of December 8, 2014, the current gas price is 13.2% lower than the national average, coffee is 18.2% higher than the national average and a pizza is 24% higher than the national average. In 2012 Forbes Magazine named Rapid City #9 in the Best Small Places for Business and Careers and Outdoor Life Magazine named it #4 Best Towns for Sportsmen.

Base Operator: 605-385-1110 or DSN 312-675-0111.


  • Active Duty 3,100 
  • Family Members 3,664
  • Retirees 2,596 
  • Civilians 688

Area Population: 70,812 as of 2013

Child Development Centers: Some of the programs offered by the McRaven Child Development Center: Hourly care children will be accepted on a space available basis only. Reservations are accepted up to one week in advance. Reservations may be made by calling 605-385-2488 or DSN 312-675-2488. Full-time care may be contracted for up to one year at a time. If you are interested in full-time care, contact the Child Development Center at your current base and obtain an a DD2606 Request for Care. Complete the form and mail it to: 28 FSS, 1314 LeMay Boulevard, Ellsworth AFB, SD, 57706 or find the director's email on the website. You will be assigned a place on the waiting list based on the date that the form is received at the center

Schools:  Incoming families are encouraged to register their children in school as soon as possible. Children who live on base or in Box Elder, are eligible to enroll in the Douglas Public School District. For those children living in or around Rapid City, they are eligible to register into the Rapid City Area Schools District. The schools are open from mid-August to mid-June. During other times of the year, registration information may be obtained by calling the Douglas Public School District at 605-923-0000 or the Rapid School District at 605-394-4037 for Elementary Education or 605-394-5147 for Secondary Education.  The School Liaison Officer (SLO) is available to help with educational questions regarding your move.  You can reach his office at 605-385-1381 or DSN 312-675-1381. You may access the Ellsworth AFB SLO webpage to find information on all the local educational opportunities including public, private and home school options.

Youth Services:  A wealth of creative, supervised youth activities are available through the Youth Center for youth between the ages of 9 - 18. Some activities offered include: Instructional classes; Teen Outdoor Adventure Program; Keystone Club; Before and After School Age Care Program and other programs for youth sponsorship, employment and religious activities. 

Airman and Family Readiness Center: Airman and Family Readiness Center605-385-4663.

Housing: Ellsworth Air Force Base (AFB) has 1,367 active Military Family Housing units. Look forward to a variety in the types of base housing developments (nine); all quality housing and neighborhoods, complete with playgrounds. Housing facilities in the surrounding communities also offer something for everyone.

For our dorm dwellers, Unaccompanied housing at Ellsworth AFB consists of 742 rooms in six dorms. Single occupancy of all rooms is in effect.

Employment:  South Dakota has one of the best job markets in the country. South Dakota's unemployment rate is 3.3% while Rapid City has a rate of 2.9%. The military is the largest employer in the region and the second largest employer in the state. The current minimum wage for non-tipped employees is $7.25 an hour. Beginning January 1, 2015, minimum wage will rise to $8.50 an hour. The annual wage is $36,530.

Base Services: 

Medical Services: The mission of the 28th Medical Group is to provide community-focused quality health care services for all beneficiaries by professionals ready for global response and to ensure a safe environment. This includes medical and dental care, aerospace medicine and public health services for all personnel at all satellite, tenant or assigned units. The 28th MDG does not have an emergency room. Ambulance services are available 24/7 for in-flight emergencies, emergencies on base and emergencies requiring transport from the base or the MDG to Rapid City Regional Hospital.

Special Messages:  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. It is snowy, windy, and prone to big, unexpected winter storms. Thunderstorms occur 25 percent of days from July through September, more than the national average. So what are we saying: BE PREPARED!

During the tourist season (April through September), you'll begin to notice increases in gasoline prices. The same holds true for hotel/motel prices. 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 Billeting (TLF) or hotel/motel reservations 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 must be included. The operator can be reached at commercial (719) 567-1110. Please note that long distance charges may be incurred.

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