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Ellsworth AFB Welcome

Nestled in the majestic Black Hills, Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, is 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 Lancer 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 such as the National Mount Rushmore Memorial, Crazy Horse Memorial, Fort Meade, historic Deadwood and Devils Tower are a short distance beyond the base’s main gate. The area has a rich history that includes Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, Gen. 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, Ellsworth and the Black Hills can be a wonderful place to work and live.


Ellsworth’s population of approximately 10,600 includes military members, family members and civilian employees. The base’s two closest neighboring cities are Box Elder with a population of approximately 9,000 and Rapid City with a population of more than 75,000. There are also about 3,800 military retirees in western South Dakota.


The base and western South Dakota are on Mountain Standard Time.


This begins at your unit. Service members should report, with their sponsors, to the Rushmore Center and the 28th Forces Support Squadron Customer Service section upon their arrival. Personnel will be inprocessed and scheduled to attend the Right Start program or the First Term Airman Center (FTAC), a mandatory briefing for all newly arrived service members designed to minimize the time and appointments needed to introduce them to the base and organization quickly. Spouses are welcome at Right Start and encouraged to attend. Right Start is at the Dakota’s Club, 2838 Arnold Drive, directly behind the Shoppette. Bring all no-fee passports you may have if coming from an overseas location.


There are income tax advantages associated with moving costs. Keep records and receipts on all expenses associated with a move (travel expenses; meals and lodging; meals and lodging while occupying temporary quarters; expenses attributable to the sale, purchase or lease of a residence; etc.). Certain moving costs may be deductible when you file your income tax return. Additionally, South Dakota does not have a state income tax for residents. If you have specific questions, please contact the Ellsworth Air Force Base Legal Office at 605-385-2329 to schedule a legal assistance appointment.


Upon arrival, check with the Traffic Management Office regarding household goods or hold baggage shipped to Ellsworth. Call the office at 605-385-5828/6597.

Driver's License

Nonresidents may operate a motor vehicle in South Dakota in accordance with general motor vehicle laws. Nonresident military personnel and dependents are exempt from South Dakota licensing requirements provided they keep their out-of-state operator’s license current, properly claim legal residency in that state and the military sponsor remains on active duty. For more information, call the Department of Motor Vehicles at 605-394-2912.


There is no requirement for vehicles to be registered on Ellsworth AFB; however, all vehicles must have a valid state registration and be insured.


Generally, all rules of the road applicable to the operation of a motor vehicle on South Dakota roads apply on Ellsworth AFB. Unless otherwise posted, the speed limit on Ellsworth is 25 mph. On streets in the housing areas, the speed limit is 15 mph and 5 mph in parking lots. Remember, the speed on the flight line is 15 mph in aircraft parking areas and on the access roads.

The use of radar detectors or jammers is prohibited on Ellsworth and all other Department of Defense installations. It is legal to possess such devices in South Dakota; however, they must be turned off when driving on base.

The use of cell phones while driving is also prohibited; use of hands-free devices or Bluetooth technologies is allowed.

Open containers of alcoholic beverages are not permitted in the passenger compartment of any vehicle. Operating a vehicle on Ellsworth constitutes an implied consent to submit to a test for intoxication if requested, and refusal of testing will result in an automatic suspension of base driving privileges. The consumed level of intoxication in South Dakota is 0.08 percent blood alcohol content.


South Dakota does not require registration of privately owned firearms. Permits to carry concealed weapons are issued by the Pennington County Sheriff’s Department for a nominal fee after completion of a background check. These permits, however, do not authorize an individual to carry concealed firearms on Ellsworth AFB. Exception: DOD officials and federal, state and local law enforcement officers are authorized to carry concealed weapons while performing official duties.

Privately owned firearms, ammunition, fireworks and explosives are prohibited in bachelor living quarters and transient living quarters. People living in bachelor quarters are required to register their firearms with the 28th Security Forces Squadron and are required, along with transient personnel, to store their firearms in the 28th SFS armory. People living in base housing are required to register their firearms through their unit commanders with the 28th SFS armory and may keep their weapons and ammunition — not to exceed 500 rounds — in their homes. Registration procedures and the list of prohibited weapons on Ellsworth AFB can be found in the Ellsworth AFB Comprehensive Protection Plan.

A privately owned firearm may be transported in a trunk or other locked compartment of a vehicle or within a gun case. The firearm must be unloaded while transported. The firearm may only be transported from the installation entry control point or authorized firing location, including the base firing and skeet ranges, to the place of authorized storage using the most direct route and with no stops along the route. Ammunition must be stored separately from the weapon (i.e., in the glove box or other storage compartment). Exception: Federal, state and local law enforcement officers are authorized to bear firearms on Ellsworth AFB while performing official duties.


For the purpose of securing nongovernment housing, personnel can take 10 days of permissive TDY from their current base and return for outprocessing or take eight days after they check in with their new unit at Ellsworth. Contact your local personnel office and unit for details.


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