Most people living in the Bay Area in the 1960s were likely unaware that there were 12 Nike missile launch sites scattered around the bay, each housing several nuclear warheads armed with three times the explosive power of the Hiroshima bomb. Most of these sites were dismantled as a result of the SALT Treaty of 1972; the site on the Marin Headlands known as SF-88, however, was not. The work of countless volunteers contributed to the site being restored to replicate its condition of 50 years ago. Of more than 300 sites, this is now the only restored Nike site in the country.
There are often volunteers at the site who were part of the army crews that originally manned these stations. Their stories and the information they have about the missiles and what life was like here, especially during the tense days of the Cuban Missile Crisis, are fascinating. The elevators that raise and lower the missiles are operational, and there are several missiles (sans warheads) stored in an underground bunker that is open to the public as well.
This is a unique and thought-provoking piece of our nation's history, and it is well worth the time spent to visit. The site is open during limited hours on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, so please check with the park office to confirm before visiting.