Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park

Popular Nike Missile Tours Now Available at Everglades National Park

January 19, 2010, 11:34 am

For the second consecutive year, the National Park Service has opened the historic Nike Hercules Missile Base HM-69 located in Everglades National Park for public tours. This tour was offered for the first time in 2009 and was so popular that the park has expanded the scheduled tours.

These ranger-guided tours bring the park visitors through one of the best-preserved Cold War relics of the in the country. This significant historical site represents the best overall example of the nation’s missile defense system close to Cuba and remains virtually unchanged since official use of the site was terminated in 1979. The only access to the base is through these ranger-led programs.

This Nike Hercules Missile Base was built by the United States Army Corps of Engineers in 1963 at the height of the Cold War, immediately following the Cuban Missile Crisis of October, 1962. At a time when national security to prevent and protect against a Soviet attack was America’s main priority, the United States Army chose this strategic site within Everglades National Park, located 160 miles from the Cuban coast, to build a missile site.

Listed as a Historic District on the U. S. Department of the Interior’s National Register of Historic Places on July 27, 2004, the site includes three missile barns built to contain 41-foot missiles (some with nuclear warheads) a missile assembly building, a guard dog kennel, barracks, control centers within berms that served as blast protection, and a number of other features.

This base is one of four that was built in South Florida; one in north Key Largo (now Key Largo Hammocks State Park), one in Miramar (now a Publix shopping center), one that is now the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Krome Detention Center, and the site in Everglades National Park.

The interpretive tours will be held daily at 10 a.m. A second tour well be held at 2 p.m on Saturdays and Sundays. The tours are free but park entrance fees apply.  To join the tour, reserve a space by signing up at the park’s Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center, or by calling (305) 242-7700. Tours are by car caravan, thus tour participants should be at the visitor center 30 minutes before each tour and be prepared to drive 14 miles roundtrip from the visitor center. The Ernest Coe Visitor Center is located 9 miles southwest of Homestead on State Road 9336.

To view a list of times and additional information on tours, check the park’s schedule of events.