Raven Rock Mountain Complex

Updated: June 5, 2023
In this Article

    The Raven Rock Mountain Complex (RRMC) is a highly restricted military installation complete with an underground nuclear bunker. Located in Pennsylvania, RRMC is part of a continuity-of-government plan incorporating remotely-located, hardened and secured facilities that could be used to run military operations and even the entire country in the event of a national emergency such as a nuclear war.

    Find information about Raven Rock 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 mission of Raven Rock Mountain Complex is in some ways an open secret; this 650-acre installation is an underground nuclear bunker and emergency operations center. Located near Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania, RRMC is part of a system of bunkers including Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado and the Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center in Virginia. 

    What goes on inside the complex is less of an open secret. General details are known, but good luck getting an idea of day-to-day life below ground there.

    The original plan was to use these complexes specifically in case of a nuclear attack, but there have been other uses for them in times of national emergency. Vice President Dick Cheney was sent to Raven Rock after the 9/11 attacks for a time, and Raven Rock remains operational in the 21st century with a minimum staff (approximately 100) but has the capacity to house and protect thousands more.

    The facility is home to or part of a small number of publicly-acknowledged missions and units including:

    • Defense Threat Reduction Agency
    • 114th Signal Battalion
    • Defense Information Systems Agency 


    What Kind of Military Base is the Raven Rock Mountain Complex?

    Commonly referred to as “Site R,” the Raven Rock Mountain Complex varies from other military bases in a few key ways. Although it is considered a military “base,” it does not serve the traditional purpose of housing or supporting military personnel. 

    Rather, this installation is operated by the United States Army and is designed to function as an alternative common center and the continuity of government operations in the event of a national emergency. This underground complex includes a labyrinth of tunnels and chambers but does not provide on-base housing for military members or their families. 

    The Raven Rock Mountain Complex was built in the early 1950s; however, it wasn’t officially launched for operation until 1953. The site is known for pristine levels of secrecy and classifications, and its location was strategically chosen as it was established near the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. 


    Raven Rock Mountain Complex Housing: Where Should I Live if Stationed Near the Raven Rock Mountain Complex?

    The Raven Rock Mountain Complex does have a highly secure underground bunker complex, which is located underground and provides natural protection against any threat. However, you wouldn’t want to live there! 

    The facility is mostly made up of offices, conference rooms, and communication centers, with very few living quarters for personnel. As such, on-base living isn’t offered, and all off-base housing options are handled on a case-by-case basis.


    Raven Rock Mountain Complex Family Housing

    The area surrounding Raven Rock Mountain Complex is very family-friendly, as the community includes a mix of military families and civilian residents. This creates a diverse and supportive environment.

    The area’s education includes public, private, and charter schools, allowing military families to choose the right system for their child’s needs. 

    As the area is rich in historical significance, many find this an ideal place to live. Beautiful parks, hiking trails, and historic sites such as Gettysburg National Military Park are all within reach.

    This isn’t as high-traffic of an area regarding military families as other bases, but military families can still look forward to a local selection of houses, apartments, duplexes, and townhomes to either rent or purchase.

    What is the BAH for the Raven Rock Mountain Complex?

    Military personnel receive Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), helping them afford the cost of living in the areas they are stationed. Each individual’s BAH rate is calculated using a number of factors, including their rank, pay grade, and the cost of living in the location they are moving to.

    As the Raven Rock Mountain Complex isn’t a typical base that houses military members on-site, those who move to the area will be assigned an allotted amount for housing. Feel free to check out the BAH rates for military bases with routine off-base military housing procedures. 

    The Raven Rock Mountain Complex Housing Office: How to Apply for Housing at the Raven Rock Mountain Complex

    For off-site housing information in the Raven Rock Mountain Complex area, contact the Housing Office or the Housing Services center of your respective branch. They will assist you with the first steps of applying for off-base housing for your stay in the Raven Rock Mountain Complex surrounding area!


    Raven Rock, also known as Site R, began in 1950 with a government move to seize a 1,500 foot high area at Fountaindale in Pennsylvania. The government succeeded in the seizure, having submitted a “Declaration of Taking”; by October of 1951 there were already detonations and excavations happening in the area.

    There were problems and delays. Accidental deaths during the excavations in 1951, a 100-person strike in 1952, and other problems complicated things. By the end of 1953 there were three underground structures completed but the project ran into cost overruns and by spring of 1954, some $35 million had been sunk into the project. 

    All of this had been in the service of a “deep underground” communication center designed to further the interests of the U.S. during the Cold War.

    The Joint War Room Annex At Raven Rock

    In 1956, emergency preparedness for a Cold War-style nuclear attack included a Joint War Room Annex at Raven Rock. This was run by the United States Air Force and in a short amount of time the Annex was considered the go-to facility for emergency deployment and the protection of high-level officers and essential personnel such as the Chief of Staff.

    President Dwight D. Eisenhower had concerns about nuclear command and control; 1958 was a time of reorganization with the Raven Rock Air Force facility becoming part of a system of NORAD Alert Network stations. Missile detection and defense were top-of-mind issues in these earliest days of the nuclear arms race between the Soviet Union and America.

    Raven Rock In The 1960s

    In 1960 the Pentagon’s Joint War Room became a growing concern with Joint Alternate Command Element staffing at Raven Rock also in development. There were some plans to follow to construct other centers intended to replace or phase out Raven Rock; these plans never came to fruition. Over the years, Raven Rock would be fortified against nuclear blasts in a similar fashion to the Cheyenne Mountain complex. 

    The 1970s And Site R

    1976 saw the facility open the US Army Communications Command Site R Telecommunications Center; the following year the Alternate National Military Command and Control Center Improvement Program proposed new work on a deep underground center, but that was cancelled in 1979 according to some sources.

    Nearly Closed For Good

    DoD had an eye on closing Raven Rock in the years prior to 9/11 but following the 2001 terrorist attacks, Vice President Dick Cheney was installed in Raven Rock as a continuation-of-government strategy. The plan follows a Cold War leadership protection doctrine to keep the President/Commander-In-Chief physically separated in times of national emergency or war as a risk management measure. 

    It should be noted that some sources dispute whether the Vice President himself was actually sent to the complex; some other high ranking officials may have temporarily been installed there instead.

    At press time, there seem to be no further plans to scrap Raven Rock Mountain Complex; it continues to operate with a small staff to this day.

    The National Register Of Historic Places

    In 2001, the U.S. Army Corps Of Engineers did a survey of Raven Rock/Site R as part of a federal requirement associated with the National Register of Historic Places.

    This was required “to determine the effect of federal undertakings on those potentially eligible” for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. That work continued in 2017 with a “Phase I Archaeological survey” of Site R. The efforts to determine the suitability of inclusion of the facility in the National Register does not affect its basically secret nature or the day-to-day operations of the complex.

    Raven Rock In Popular Culture

    Raven Rock is described as a frontier town on the coast of Solstheim. This location began as a mining settlement built by the East Empire Company in the late Third Era…except this particular Raven Rock isn’t a secret underground military complex, it’s a location in the popular Elder Scrolls video game Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

    This is just one mention of the name Raven Rock, but there have been (in spite of its continued secrecy) many uses of the facility as part of popular culture books, games, television, and films. 

    Specific mentions of Raven Rock Complex in American popular culture include:

    • Raven Rock: The Story of the U.S. Government’s Secret Plan to Save Itself (nonfiction book by Garrett M. Graf)
    • One Second After (book series)
    • Mitch Rapp (book series)
    • Salvation (television)
    • Jeremiah (television)
    • Prison Break (television)
    • Oblivion (sci-fi film)
    • Fallout (video game)
    • Fallout 3 (video game) 
    • Fallout 76 (video game)

    Surrounding Area

    Raven Rock Mountain Complex is physically located at Raven Rock Mountain near Blue Ridge Summit in Adams County, Pennsylvania. Located near the Maryland state line, the complex is accessible via a side road off Pennsylvania Route 16. “Accessible” is a relative concept in this case; no unauthorized visitors are allowed into the facility, which features a security gate but no access for anyone except those with specific authorization to enter. 

    Tours are not permitted. Raven Rock is not quite in the middle of nowhere, but it is located in the rolling farmland of Pennsylvania and there are many miles of wide open space here.


    Being a self-contained complex designed to accommodate the long-term needs of those called upon to serve there in times of crisis, there are essential services that are theoretically available; the internal workings of Raven Rock are kept secret and there is little to no public information available.


    Raven Rock is essentially a standalone underground city, but all housing issues for those requiring an extended stay in the facility are handled internally and case-by-case. When there is no national emergency or other required use of the facility, there is no large presence of permanent housing–this is not an area where military families are housed the way typical DoD installations are run.


    There is no unrestricted or “casual access” to Raven Rock Mountain Complex. All troop transport issues to the facility are handled internally.

    Vehicle Registration And Driver’s License

    Raven Rock is a self-contained complex and cannot be accessed by normal means such as you would use to enter a military base with a front gate, Pass & ID office, etc. Only those with a need to work in the complex are permitted in and out.

    Written by Joe Wallace

    Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News.