The only megaton missile silo from the Cold War that is open to the public, the Titan Missile Museum offers a unique experience. It is located in the hot Arizona desert – a bleak setting that feels appropriate for a nuclear missile silo – and was the largest nuclear missile silo in the continental United States until it was decommissioned in 1982 by Ronald Reagan.
Inside the silo, you can see up close a missile that was used for training exercises (the original was moved when the silo became a museum), the control room, and the living quarters in a place that was built to survive a direct attack from a multi-megaton nuclear blast. The corridors look like they belong on the Death Star, but this is no science fiction. The culmination of the tour is a simulated launch, complete with secret codes and two-key ignition, a count down, and a blastoff. The nuclear winter, resulting fallout and post-apocalyptic aftermath is left to the imagination. Sitting deep within the chambers of one of the most destructive devices ever created by man is a much more frightening experience than any haunted house.
On a few nights of the year, you can even arrange to sleep in the old crew’s quarters, where men and women spent their lives awaiting the signal for nuclear war. When John F. Kennedy was shot in 1963, in the silo’s first year of operation, both launch keys were placed on the table to prepare to fire the missile. Attendants, for security reasons (and perhaps psychological ones too), were never told where the missiles they were ready to fire were aimed.