Cheyenne Mountain Complex is a secure, closed-to-the-public underground facility located at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station near the city of Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The facility is owned and operated by Air Force Space Command, with NORAD and USNORTHCOM occupying roughly 30% of the floor space and about five percent of daily operations there, according to the Department of Defense.
Find information about Cheyenne Mountain Complex including the main commercial and DSN numbers for the base, information on basic services, base transportation, lodging for TDY and PCSing personnel, and inprocessing.
Mission & Units
The Cheyenne Mountain Complex has a complicated existence compared to other more traditional Air Force installations. The complex is operated by the 21st Space Wing, located at Peterson Air Force Base, in Colorado. The wing has a dual mission to support space operations and Peterson AFB.
Aside from its support of the underground Cheyenne Mountain Complex, the 21st Space Wing is responsible for a variety of missions including warning radar against incoming missiles, and cataloging man-made objects in space. Troop support, logistics and other needs for Cheyenne Mountain AFS are the responsibility of the 21st Mission Support Group at Peterson AFB.
Cheyenne Mountain Complex Stats
- Carved out of 2000 feet of granite
- Located more than 600 meters below ground
- The facility has six tunnels
- Each tunnel is three stories tall
- The complex is reinforced against seismic activity and nuclear explosions
- The facility is said to be hardened against electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attacks
- Parts of Cheyenne Mountain have been visualized in major Hollywood productions including War Games and Stargate
- It takes 45 seconds to close the two main blast doors leading into the complex
- The blast doors are three and a half feet thick and weigh more than 20 tons
- The blast doors are closed in times of emergency
- Cheyenne Mountain blast doors have only been closed once, during 9/11
Movies And Television Featuring Cheyenne Mountain Complex
TV series, movies, video games, books and comics that have listed Cheyenne Mountain Complex as a shooting location or storylines based on the highly classified military installation:
Movies & TV Shows
- Stargate SG-1 (1997–2007)
- WarGames (1983)
- Intruders (1992)
- First Strike (1979)
- A Call to Arms (2009)
- Jeremiah (2002–2004)
- In Search of the Constitution (1987)
- Terminator Franchise (1984-2019)
- Interstellar (2014)
- Dr. Strangelove aka How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
- South Park: season 4, episode 12, “Trapper Keeper”: (2000)
- Norad: Cheyenne Mountain Documentary (1998)
- Independence Day (1996)
- Independence Day (2016)
- Revolution (2012-2014)
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2009)
- Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel (2001)
- Brain Jack (2011)
- Footfall (1985)
- For Special Services (1982)
- Monument 14 (2013)
- The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress (1966)
- Deadpool Vol 3 3
- Uncanny X-Men 94
- Marvel Universe
NORAD is known world-wide for its “NORAD Tracks Santa” operation, fielding calls from children on Christmas Eve asking where Santa is.
As the Cold War progressed in the 1950s, a growing nuclear threat from the Soviet Union forced Defense Department planners to anticipate a war the world has never known; an exchange of nuclear missiles fired from land-based silos, at sea via nuclear submarine, or in the air from a jet aircraft.
A large range of nuclear era projections (blast range, fallout kill radius, survivability, regrouping as a nation) was, save for actual statistics gleaned from the aftermath of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, quite conceptual in terms of what it might take to help a nation survive a nuclear attack.
What might have happened is unknown, but the potential for widespread devastation was too much for DoD planners to ignore.
The Army Corps of Engineers was tasked to begin excavation at Cheyenne Mountain with the goal of building a hardened military command and control center that could, if needed, withstand a nuclear event and allow the government to function remotely.
Those plans became reality as Cheyenne Mountain Complex opened its massive doors both literally and figuratively. On February 6, 1967, the facility opened as the NORAD Combat Operations Center. Once open, Cheyenne Mountain’s underground complex would become home or host to a variety of agencies (whether for training or for ongoing missions) including:
- North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)
- Strategic Command
- Air Force Space Command
- Northern Command (USNORTHCOM)
- U.S. Space Force
As AP News reports, NORAD stood down from the Cold War-era nuclear watch in 1992 following the breakup of the Soviet Union. But as AP notes, “Cheyenne Mountain is still teeming with electronics and personnel watching for terrorist attacks and cyber assaults as well as missiles.”
In 2008 operations were shifted to a larger command center at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs. Cheyenne Mountain functions today as an alternate command center and a place for training and certification operations. The alternate facility is used frequently to insure the site is operational and ready in the event of a true emergency.
Day-to-day operations for NORAD and USNORTHCOM are held at Peterson Air Force Base, not Cheyenne Mountain. The facility is closed to the public and tours are not offered through this highly secure location.
Colorado is famous for its legal recreational marijuana culture, microbreweries and taprooms. Where legal 420 consumption is concerned, all incoming troops PCSing or TDY to the Colorado Springs area will be given (or given access to) a list of off-limits establishments in the area as well as unit-level, base-level, and command-level policies about legal cannabis and the military member’s obligations regarding it.
Where local breweries and other attractions go, Colorado Mountain Brewery at the Roundhouse, Bristol Brewing Company and Cerberus Brewing Company are all standouts.
The entire Colorado Springs area features plenty of opportunities to hike, camp, and enjoy the great outdoors. The Will Rogers Shrine Of The Sun is a popular destination, featuring a tower and chapel on Cheyenne Mountain.
Those into the Shrine of the Sun won’t waste any time exploring the Garden Of The Gods with its popular bike trails, rock climbing, jeep tours and much more. Helicopter tours are also available in season, and the Pikes Peak Center for the Arts features live entertainment.
Sports lovers will note Broadmoor World Arena as a go-to, and there are plenty of museums and galleries to explore including the Petersen Air And Space Museum and Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum. National Museum of World War II Aviation is an excellent family outing in the area.
Housing issues for those who must train at Cheyenne Mountain are handled at the base where troops are assigned such as Peterson Air Force Base. If you are coming to the area on TDY orders, ask your gaining unit or the point of contact for your temporary duty about arrangements for TDY lodging at Peterson AFB or in the local area.
PCS and TDY Lodging
Cheyenne Mountain is many things, including a training facility. It helps to think of it in the same way you might think of a missile range or a flight test cell. The complex is the destination for training, and units who choose to train there will make arrangements ahead of time for lodging if required.
The underground Air Force operation relies on support from Peterson AFB and most of its services for troops and families are found there.
Transportation to Cheyenne Mountain Complex is normally arranged on a need-to-use basis. Units performing training at the complex will coordinate their own transportation needs accordingly.
Vehicle Registration And Driver’s License
Cheyenne Mountain’s function as an alternate training site means no day-to-day operations there. Most daily functions including vehicle registration and other needs are handled at nearby Peterson Air Force Base.