So, you have orders to Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota! You are either pretty excited, or completely bummed. Don’t be bummed! Ellsworth Air Force Base is a diamond in the rough. There are so many things to do here and western South Dakota is full of history! Even if you are from a big city, this is the place to branch out! We have more hiking trails in the Black Hills than you could possibly imagine! There are thousands of square miles of trails to ride quads, UTV’s, and dirt bikes. There are 18 plus lakes where you can camp, hike, fish, or just enjoy the outdoors! Rapid City has a LOT to offer if you willing to explore…and the list goes on! Check out the other sections of our website to learn more about what to do in Rapid City and the Black Hills! So don’t be bummed, be stoked because you just landed an awesome assignment!
Ellsworth AFB Weather
Yes, Ellsworth AFB weather can be brutal at times. The temperature will drop to negative 40 and the wind will blow 60 miles per hour but this isn’t all winter long. This is really only during January and February. Once March and April arrive we will get blizzards, but they usually melt within a day or two because it will be back in the 50’s and 60’s the following day or two after. May, June, and July are unbelievable! Everything turns bright green, the weather usually hovers around the mid 70’s and 80’s and the Black Hills come alive! Rapid City hosts a Thursday night community gathering with live bands, and the entire area just become amazing! You just have to get out and experience it! So…yes, a few weeks a year it gets extremely cold. Aside from that it’s not nearly as bad as you might have heard.
What Can I Expect From The Base?
Depending on where you are coming from it might be pretty slow. However, our mission is vitally important. I won’t get into details here, due to FOUO, but you’re more than welcome to send me a message with questions. This is the place to start, or finish your personal and professional Air Force goals. You will have the time to really hone in on your job if you’re coming from a DSD or really busy base, you can complete your degree, get involved with base organizations, and network across the 28th Bomb Wing. We have a decent sized BX with a Burger King, Charlies, GNC, a barber shop, etc. You can check out their website here. Ellsworth also has a really nice commissary, an outdoor running track that circles around our base lakes, a movie theater, a library, a shoppette, and pretty much everything else you would expect to find on an Air Force Base. If you want to learn more about Ellsworth AFB’s history, check out this link here.
Should I Buy A House or Rent?
As you might have already heard, Ellsworth AFB will be the first location to receive the new B-21 bomber. Because of this, Rapid City and Box Elder are expected to grow exponentially! So, in this case, I would say BUY BUY BUY! We have so many awesome realtors in our area, with some of them being prior military themselves. You can buy a home, stay for a few years, sell it…and make 10 or 15 plus thousand dollars! Why rent and throw your money away? Your home WILL sell! Not to mention, you will have exactly what you want, as well as a two plus garage, a quiet neighborhood, and nobody telling you to cut your grass when it’s a half inch to tall!
If you want to get in contact with a great realtor send me a message on Facebook here. As the owner of Black Hills AVP, I work with many of them as I specialize in Real Estate. I can point you in the right direction! I’ve also been at Ellsworth AFB since 2003 minus a bunch of deployments, TDY’s, and a year in Turkey so I know this place like the back of my hand. I can give you all of the ins and outs you need/want to know about the base and local area. All you have to do is ask! Don’t be scared…the only dumb question is the one that wasn’t asked!
However, I get it…some people don’t want to buy. In that case, I do have to say the rental market in Rapid City and Box Elder isn’t the best. For houses anyway. It is definitely getting better though. Especially with the B-21 coming to Ellsworth AFB. There are quite a few really nice apartments that can be rented for $1K plus, but the houses available to rent in Rapid City are lacking. The below links are apartment complexes that are not only really nice, but within your BAH budget. They are all located in Rapid City which is only 7 miles from Ellsworth AFB. Click on each one/follow the link to see more details:
- Harmony Heights: 20 – 25 minutes from the main gate.
- Copper Ridge Apartments: 20 – 25 Minutes from the main gate.
- The Pines: 20 – 25 Minutes from the main gate.
- Gateway Apartments: 20 – 25 Minutes from the main gate.
- Alps Park Apartments: 20 – 25 Minutes from the main gate
If you don’t want to rent an apartment, there are quite a few homes for rent in Antelope Ridge. This is the old base housing that went contract 5 years or so ago. The majority of these homes only have a one car garage, but are very spacious inside. The rent is going to eat up almost all of your BAH. There are quite a few playgrounds for the kids, and it is less than 5 minutes to the main gate. If that’s your thing, you will enjoy it! This is also a great location for single people as you can split the cost of the rental and save money! You can get in contact with the housing office for Antelope Ridge here.
What About Child Care?
The Child Development Center located on Ellsworth AFB is top notch! As with any CDC, the price goes off of your rank. Check out their website here. There are also a plethora of off base day cares that are very reputable. I would suggest reaching out the the Ellsworth Families Facebook page to find a great location for your kiddos off base. It can be found by following this link.
My Sponsor Isn’t Returning My Emails or Phone Calls! HELP!!!
If you can’t get a’hold of your sponsor, you can reach out to your unit directly using the base phone book here. If you are still having issues, just send me a Facebook message here and I will get you hooked up with the right people!
Is There A Newcomers Packet Anywhere?
You should have one in your email that was sent to you by your sponsor! However, if for whatever reason you didn’t get one you can always check out the Ellsworth AFB website/Newcomers located here! This should answer the rest of your questions! If it doesn’t, just send me a message.
Congrats on your new assignment! I truly mean that! If you get out and explore the area, this will be one of the coolest assignments you will have ever experienced. There is a ton of history here, hundreds of thousands of acres of Black Hills National Forest to explore, or maybe you want to head east and check out the Badlands! If you’re a motorcycle rider you hit the jackpot! Sturgis South Dakota is 30 miles away and is home to the nations largest motorcycle rally. If you like to fish, welcome to paradise! My advice…learn how to fly fish! If you like to shop…Rapid City has so much to offer…or just drive to Denver Colorado! It’s only a 6 hour trip. So…don’t be bummed. Have a blast and make some great memories that you will cherish for a lifetime while stationed here!
Keith A. Heimericks
MSgt/Owner of Black Hills AVP