Ellsworth Air Force Base

28th Bomb Wing

1940 EP Howe Drive, Ellsworth AFB, SD 57706

Air Force


Ellsworth AFB was established in 1941 as Rapid City Army Air Base (AAB). On 2 January 1942, the U.S. War Department established Rapid City Army Air Base to train B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bomber units to fight the Axis in Europe. In March 1944, the 225th Army Air Force Base Unit switched from training entire units to training individual replacement personnel to send to units deployed overseas. The field’s instructors taught thousands of pilots, navigators, radio operators and gunners from nine heavy bombardment groups and numerous smaller units. On 15 July 1945, the 225th AAFBU was inactivated and Rapid City AAB was placed on standby status as the Army Air Forces began to demobilize.

Rapid City was founded, and originally known as “Hay Camp”, in 1876 by a group of disappointed miners enticed by The public discovery of gold in 1874 by the Black Hills Expedition, promoted their new city as the “Gateway to the Black Hills”, a nickname the city now shares with neighboring Box Elder. 

There are approximately 9,000 people on active duty, family member, civilians and retirees at Ellsworth Air Force Base.



Upon arrival, be sure to have 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 on hand.
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.  During the tourist season (April through September), you’ll begin to notice increases in gasoline prices. The same holds true for hotel 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 the 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. The Rapid City Regional Airport is located just west of downtown Rapid City. The Denver International Airport (DEN) is the closest large airport and is 414 miles south, which is about a 6.5-hour drive. Most residents of Rapid City use their personal vehicles to travel and commute within and out of the city. The Rapid Transit System offers additional transportation services, including bus services, Dial-A-Ride and the City View Trolley


TRICARE Information and News


For a full list of community health centers, visit the Health Center Program at https://findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov/.


Check the US News Health directory online at https://health.usnews.com/doctors/search to find the best doctor for your family.


The American Dental Association provides a list of dentists near you on their website https://findadentist.ada.org/.


To be eligible for kindergarten in South Dakota, a student must have turned the age of 5 on or before September 1 of that same school year. The compulsory school age in South Dakota is age 6. 

In 2010, the majority of states, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Education Activity adopted Common Core State Standards that provide a consistent set of educational expectations for students, regardless of ZIP code. When a family moves, a student’s education is often disrupted because the student may be forced to repeat material or learn at a different level at the new school. With common standards across states, this disruption will be reduced — of particular interest to military families. For more information, visit http://www.corestandards.org/.

Ellsworth Air Force Base is served by the Douglas School District. Here’s a checklist for new students to help in their transition.

Elementary Schools:
Badger Clark Elementary School (605) 923-0080
Francis Case Elementary School (605) 923-0070

Middle Schools:
Douglas Middle School (605) 923-0050

High School:
Douglas High School (605) 923-0030

If you are residing in off-base housing in one of the other two sister cities, here’s a listing of several local schools.

Also, if you have a child that is preparing to attend college, National American University Ellsworth, Black Hills State University and University of South Dakota may be of interest to them along with information on scholarships.

Rapid City Area Schools is made up of 15 elementary schools, five middle schools, and three high schools. Visit this page to learn more about the schools in the Rapid City area.

If your child is preparing to attend college, this information on scholarships may be helpful.


Current service members can attend college in their off-duty time and have their military branch pay the tuition. Learn about the Military Tuition Assistance Program. Use the Tuition Assistance (TA) DECIDE tool to help you make the best use of your tuition assistance dollars.

If you were or are in the military, you may be eligible for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) education benefits. If you are a spouse or dependent, you may be eligible too.

Online course options: edX – Founded by Harvard University and MIT, offers high-quality courses from the world’s best universities and institutions to learners everywhere. Whether you are interested in computer science, languages, engineering, psychology, writing, electronics, biology, or marketing. Enroll today!

When moving to a new location, it is important to know who to call when you have an emergency or you need help. Below are some organizations you will find useful.


Child Care Aware:

Under the site’s “Child Care 101” tab you’ll find information related to locating quality child care, the types of child care available to you and how to evaluate the child care providers you visit. There’s also a special section for the military child on the website covering topics such as military fee assistance, payments and provider services.


Military Children and Teens Resource Guide

Pennington County, South Dakota

Health & Human Services (605) 394-2156

Sheriff’s Office (605) 394-6113

Humane Society of the Black Hills (605) 394-4170

Rapid City Public Library (605) 394-9300

Base Operator (315) 772-6556


Chaplain (315) 772-5591


Civilian Personnel Office (315) 772-1049


Dental Headquarters (315) 772-4440


EFMP Family Support (315) 772-5476


Family Advocacy Program (315) 772-6929


Family Child Care (315) 772-2250


Housing Services Office (315) 772-9397


ID/CAC Card Processing (315) 772-5149


Information and Referral (315) 772-6799


In-Processing (315) 772-0423


Legal Services and JAG (315) 772-5261


Medical Appointments (315) 772-4655


NAF Human Resources Officer (315) 772-5393


Suicide Prevention Hotline (315) 772-9018


You must be verified by the Housing Management Office as an eligible tenant before you enter into a lease with Balfour Beatty Communities. To qualify, you must be married, or single drawing Basic Allowance for Housing w/dependent rate Basic Allowance for Housing based upon having primary custody of a dependent.

For more information for on-base housing or finding housing in the surrounding area, visit this helpful guide by Ellsworth Air Force Base.

8.3 miles from base

This neighborhood has quick access to highways and has plenty of amenities, including the Rushmore Mall nearby.

Rapid Valley
7.4 miles from base

Rapid Valley is just south of the AFB in a small community east of Rapid City shopping nearby.

Submit information about your neighborhood

We vet for Vets

Report To Base is the #1 site for vetted military friendly realtors that work with active duty, are well versed in VA purchases and virtual tours. We feature mortgage brokers who specialize in VA loans with competitive rates so you do not have to shop for low rates we do it for you. All our home inspectors are VA friendly and are backed by our community. At Report To Base we do all the work for you. All you have to do is click and call.

Be sure to let our partners know you found them at Report to Base!

Report to Base is the #1 site for vetted, trustworthy realtors, mortgage brokers and home inspectors. Report To Base does all the hard work for you. All you have to do is click and call.

Be sure to let our partners know you found them at Report to Base!


Rapid City is characterized by long arid summers and long dry winters, with short spring and fall seasons. In 2014, Rapid City was named #1 with the “Most Unpredictable Weather”. Thunderstorms occur 25 percent of days from July through September, more than the national average. The summer months of June, July and August typically bring dry, sunny and hot weather. 

On average, there are 34 days with 90° F highs. Due to the elevation and aridity, the lows rarely remain at or above 70° F. Rapid City records an average of nine thunderstorm days in August, but typically does not get a lot of precipitation with the storms. December is typically the coldest month of the year, with an average temperature of 24.9° F. Snowfall can be frequent, but usually not heavy; March and April tend to be the snowiest months during the year. Measurable snow has been recorded in every month except for July, so it is possible to see snow outside of March and April, but not likely.

Compared to other cities in South Dakota and cities across the country, the cost of living index in Box Elder and Rapid City is 91 and 93, respectively. This brings the cost of living 1% higher than the South Dakota average for Box Elder and 3% higher for Rapid City. Box Elder is 9% lower than the national average where Rapid City is 7% lower.

Rapid City is located on the western side of South Dakota, just east of the Black Hills mountain range, which crosses into Wyoming. The second most populated city in South Dakota, Rapid City has a population of about 75,000 people and is the county seat of Pennington County. Named after Rapid Creek, it is known as the “Gateway to the Black Hills”. Camp Rapid is located in the western part of the city, while Ellsworth Air Force Base is located northeast on the outskirts of the city. 

Rapid City is home to popular attractions like Art Alley, Dinosaur Park, the City of Presidents walking tour, Chapel in the Hills, Storybook Island, Main Street Square and more. The historic “Old West” town of Deadwood is nearby. In the neighboring Black Hills are the popular tourist attractions of the Crazy Horse Memorial, Custer State Park, Wind Cave National Park, Jewel Cave National Monument, the museum at the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research, and to the east of the city is Badlands National Park.

Other popular attractions in the area include: Sturgis, South Dakota is about a 30-minute drive from Rapid City and is known for one of the largest annual motorcycle events in the world. Mount Rushmore National Memorial located about 40 minutes south of Rapid City, is the state’s most-visited scenic attraction, drawing in more than two million visitors each year.The Journey Museum and Learning Center features a large collection of Native American artifacts and takes you through a journey of the Black Hills. And, finally, the South Dakota Air and Space Museum, which is aimed at educating and entertaining the public with its many exhibits geared towards the history of aviation.

Local Churches

Join our community

Receive great PCS tips and additional resources