History Wars World War II

The complete base guide to Nellis Air Force Base

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An F-15C assigned to the 57th Wing, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, takes off for the final time, June 21, 2022. (U.S. Air Force photo by William R. Lewis)

What happens at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada… stays at Nellis. At least, that’s the way it should be. Located just eight miles from downtown Las Vegas, Nellis is probably one of the Air Force’s most famous installations. That’s  because it’s home to the Thunderbirds, an air demonstration squadron assigned to the 57th Wing. Check out these photos of the Thunderbirds flying over Las Vegas as tribute to healthcare workers.

It’s also home to more than a thousand nuclear weapons. That makes Nevada the fourth-largest nuclear repository in the country. In fact, the base has been a major nuke storage site for almost fifty years. If you’re heading to Nellis, you probably have lots of questions about schools, housing, and what there is to do in the Nevada heat. Read on to find out more! 


Nellis AFB has been around for a while and in response, the North Las Vegas residential community keeps growing. In fact, NLV is home to the 5th largest school district in the United States. When you call Nellis home, you’ll quickly discover that it’s not all slot machines and roulette tables. There’s a vibrant, homestyle community just waiting to be discovered at Nellis and in the surrounding areas. 

The installation is over 14,000 acres and the total land, including restricted ranges, is about 5,000 square miles. There’s also an additional 7,000 miles of airspace north and east of the restricted ranges that are also available for military flight operations.

An important thing to keep in mind is that if you arrive during duty hours, report to your unit first! Otherwise, go to the 24-hour arrival point located in the Lodging Office and sign in. 

Aviation Nation 2012 depicts the history of American aviation and salutes the recent accomplishments of America’s military in operations around the globe through numerous military and civilian ground displays Nov. 10, 2012, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Aviation Nation is the largest free public event in Nevada.(U.S. Air Force Photo By Senior Airman Daniel Hughes)

Nellis Air Force Base Location

Nellis AFB is 8 miles northeast of Las Vegas. It’s located in Clark County, which is the 13th largest county in the country! There’s lots to do in nearby Las Vegas, but there’s even more once you start peeling back the layers of this interesting and historically significant area. Check out our Activities section to find out more. 


From downtown Las Vegas, take 1-5N, exit 48 Craig Road. Continue straight across to Fitzgerald Blvd. to arrive at the Nellis Main Gate.

Coming from the east or south: Depending on where you start, prepare for a long ride! Get on 70W and head west until you hit I-15 S. Take the ramp towards Lamb Boulevard. Keep left at the fork. Go straight onto Lamb Boulevard (NV 610) then turn left onto East Craig Road (NV 573). Continue onto Craig Road and follow signs. 


You can arrive to Nellis by bus, train, or airplane! 

Plane travel is probably easiest, especially if you’re PCSing with your family. However, if you have the leave to burn and you’re coming from out east, taking a train is a wonderful way to experience the country without having to drive. Check out Amtrak’s latest offerings to find out more. 

McCarran International Airport serves many major airlines. Expect the drive from the airport to base to take about forty minutes, depending on traffic. 


Nellis AFB has ten gates in total so there are several ways to enter the installation. Some aren’t open on weekends though, so it’s a good idea to remember which is open when. 

Main Gate: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Area II Gate: 0530-1730, 7 days a week

Beale Gate: 0530-1730 Monday-Friday

Hollywood Gate: 0530-0700 & 1600-1730 Monday-Friday

Landings Gate: 24/7, 7 days a week

Manch Manor Gate: 24/7, 7 days a week

Range Road Gate: 24/7, 7 days a week

I-215 Gate: 0600-0900 & 1500-1800 Monday-Friday

Simons Gate: 0500-1700 Monday-Sunday

VA Hospital Gate: 0600-1800 Monday-Friday

A student from the Innovations International Charter School of Nevada watches as a B-1B Lancer flies at Aviation Nation Nov. 8, 2012, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Innovations International Charter School of Nevada brought more than 200 students to the Flightline Frenzy. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Daniel Hughes)

Contacts at Nellis Air Force Base

Airman & Family Readiness Center (A&FRC), (702) 652-3327

A&FRC – Family Services, (702) 652-3327

Airman’s Attic, (702) 652-4765

Arts and Craft Center, (702) 652-2849

Base Operator, (702) 652-1110

Chaplain’s Office, (702) 652-2950

Child Development Center, (702) 652-4241

Civil Engineer, (702) 652-2301

Civilian Personnel, (702) 652-9255,

Command Post, (702) 652-2446

Commercial Travel Office (Official Travel – WingGate), (702) 505-4253

Commissary, (702) 632-5500

Community Center, (702) 652-5014

Education Services, (702) 652-5280

Exchange – Military Clothing Sales, (702) 643-3526 ext. 457 or 458

Finance Customer Service, (702) 652-4844

Fire Dept. (non-emergency) Main, (702) 652-9630

Health Promotion Operations (HPO), (702) 653-3383 

Hospital Appointments/Care Line, (702) 653-CARE (2273)

Household Goods, (702) 652-MOVE (6683)

Housing Office, (702) 652-1840

Housing Maintenance for Base Housing, (702) 677-3661

Information, Tickets and Travel, (702) 652-2193

Immunizations, (702) 653-2410

Inspector General, (702) 652-3355

Law Enforcement Desk, (702) 652-2311

Legal Office, (702) 652-2479

Lodging at Nellis Inn, (702) 652-2711

Mental Health Clinic, (702) 653-3880

Military and Family Life Counselor, (702) 274-3884

Military Justice, (702) 652-7530

MPF – ID Cards and DEERS, (702) 652-2309

Space-A Flight Information, (702) 652-2562

Sexual Assault Prevention & Response Office (Administration Line for SARC) (702) 652-5399

Veterinary Clinic, (702) 652-8836

Youth Center, (702) 652-9307

An F-15E Strike Eagle from the U.S. Air Force Weapons School deploys flares during Aviation Nation, Nov.11, 2012, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. (U.S. Air Force Photo By Senior Airman Daniel Hughes)

Mission and Units

Nellis is part of the AF’s Air Combat Command and is a focal point for advanced combat aviation training. This is accomplished through fighter and bomber aircraft training, along with aircraft used for transport, close-air-support, command-and-control and combat search-and-rescue. 

The 57th Wing is the host wing at Nellis. Major units include the 57th Operations Group, 57th Maintenance Group, and the Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron “Thunderbirds.” Also, the Air Force Weapons School, 414th Combat Training Squadron (Red Flag), 547th Intelligence Squadron and the 549th Combat Training Squadron (Green Flag-West) all call Nellis home. 

Nellis Air Force Base History

Like many DoD installations, Nellis got its start during WWII. Then, it was called the Las Vegas Army Air Field and hosted the Army Air Corps Flexible Gunnery School. In 1942, B-17 gunnery training started. By 1944, B-17 co-pilot training was added. During the height of WWII, more than 600 gunners and 215 co-pilots graduated from the school every five weeks. However, by the end of the war, the base served as a separation center and then was placed on standby status. It closed in 1947.

Two years later, it reopened as Las Vegas Air Force Base. In 1950, it was named in honor of Lt. William Harrell Nellis. Lt. Nellis was killed in action on December 27, 1944. He was conducting his 70th combat mission over Luxembourg during the Battle of the Bulge in support of the 101st Airborne Division. 

Now, Nellis units train with every type of aircraft available in the Air Force’s inventory. Additionally, ground and air units from all of the other military branches and allied nations train here, too. 

Nellis is also home of the Nellis Air Force Range, formally called the Nevada Test and Training Range. On base is the Nevada National Security Site (formerly the Nevada Test Site), as well. That’s where a large number of nuclear weapon tests were carried out in the 1950s and 1960s.

A T-1 Skyraider flies by the crowd during Aviation Nation 2012 Nov. 10, 2012, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. The T-1 Skyraider was an American single-seat aircraft that saw service between the late 1940s and early 1980s. (U.S. Air Force Photo By Senior Airman Daniel Hughes)

Things to Do Around Nellis Air Force Base

You’re never going to run out of things to do when you call Nellis AFB home! Despite its closeness to Las Vegas, Nellis and the surrounding areas offer plenty for families, too. Of course, Las Vegas is home to casinos, shows, and some of the best dining in the world. But there’s a lot more to the city and the surrounding area. Hoover Dam is only a short drive away and there’s a NASCAR speedway close to the installation too.Las Vegas is also home to a vibrant arts scene, so culture lovers won’t have to look far for opera, ballet, or symphonies.


Of course, Las Vegas has a staggering number of hotels available to accommodate the millions of tourists that flock to the city each year. The list of hotels here are closest to base and might provide a little more rest than trying to sleep the night away on the Strip. 

Aviation Inn, (702) 643-6111

Best Western Plus North Las Vegas Inn & Suites, (702) 649-3000

Comfort Inn & Suites Las Vegas – Nellis, (702) 982-6700

Holiday Inn Express Las Vegas-Nellis, (702) 644-5700

La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Nellis, (702) 632-0229

Members of team Nellis look on as celebrity chef Robert Irvine prepares a dish at the Nellis Commissary on Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., July 19, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Julian W. Kemper)

Food Scene

It’s hard to objectively say the best places to eat near Nellis AFB, but since there’s so much to try in the surrounding area, you’ll never run out of options.

Of course Las Vegas features world-class dining. Everything from Michelin starred restaurants to all you can eat buffets, if you’re in the city, you’ll find what you’re looking for. 

Off the Strip, there’s no shortage of every cuisine imaginable. From BBW to Indian, sushi to Thai, it’s all a short drive from base. Since the food scene here is so varied, the best thing for you to do is go out and explore. Chances are you’ll find the dish you’re craving. 


Nellis AFB is so close to Las Vegas that of course there’s going to be a lot to do in the city. But there’s a lot to do outside the city, as well. There’s great golf, wonderful hiking, and plenty of culture to be found – if you know where to look.

Golfers, be sure to check out Sunrise Vista and Shadow Creek. Sunrise Vista is a championship golf course that has a great attached restaurant, too. 

Outdoor enthusiasts, be sure to add the Douglass A. Selby Park to your list. Here you’ll find a great place to relax and two dog parts. Don’t miss out on the Clark County Wetlands Park, either. It’s a little further out than some parks, but well worth the drive. Explore the nearly 3,000 acres of this park and enjoy being lost in the wilderness of Nevada for a while. Of course, there’s always nearby Lake Meade if you’re looking for a little more space and lots to do. 

If you’re in the city for the day, don’t miss the Metropolitan Gallery and the Nevada State Museum. Both are perfect places to wile away a hot summer’s day.  

Nellis Air Force Base Housing

Like all installations, there are several choices when it comes to housing. 

Of course, E1-E3 and E-4 with less than 3 years in service live in the barracks. 

You can also choose to live on or off base. 

On base housing offers many amenities that you and your family might love. Housing is owned and managed by Hunt Military Communities. Neighborhoods are vibrant and varied. Some are for enlisted Airmen and families only; others are for officers. Some are a mix. All will offer the chance for you to get to know your fellow military service member neighbors. 

If you choose to live off base, there are so many options! Speak with the Military Housing Office for more information.

You might consider North Las Vegas, Henderson, or Boulder City. All offer a city-like feel and close proximity to the installation. 

Schools Near Nellis Air Force Base

Despite its size, there are no DoDEA schools on base. Mil-kids whose parents are stationed at Nellis will attend school in the Clark County School District. Since it’s the 5th largest in the country, specific school choices are varied. Additionally, the district offers several magnet schools and technical vocational schools. Speak with the School Liaison Office for current information, including enrollment requirements.

Daniel Crane, 2015 U.S. Air Force Trials participant, sprints toward the finish line during a 100-meter dash at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., March 3, 2015. Crane finished the race in first place. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Timothy Young)

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Nellis AFB known for?

Nellis is known for its air combat training. It is also the historical site of several nuclear tests. 

Can civilians go to Nellis AFB?

To access the base, you’ll need a DoD sponsor. The main gate can issue access for up to 72 hours for general visitors and a one-time pass up to 30 days for family members. 

Who can enter Nellis AFB?

All DoD ID card holders can enter Nellis.

Is Nellis Air Force Base a nuclear target?

Nellis is home to 1,450 nuclear weapons and has been a major nuclear storage area for almost half a century.