Site Summit, located in Arctic Valley at nearly 4,000 feet atop Mt. Gordon Lyon, was once home to a Nike Hercules missile battery, part of the 'Rings of Steel' missile defense system that surrounded major U.S. cities from possible Soviet missile attacks during the Cold War. Activated in 1959, the battery was home to the surface-to-air Nikes and the Soldiers who maintained them until 1979, when the missiles became obsolete and the site, one of eight in Alaska, was closed. None of the other Alaska sites remain and Site Summit is one of the most complete Nike sites left standing in the U.S. Since 2007, Friends of Nike Site Summit (FONSS) has been working with the Army (now Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson) to preserve the buildings. Site Summit remains an active training area for JBER, and public access to Site Summit is prohibited except for those on authorized tours, which FONSS began in the summer of 2012. FONSS expects to have monthly tours in 2013. Tour information can be obtained at the FONSS web site: www.nikesitesummit.net , by contacting FONSS at [email protected], or calling (907) 929-9870.
Site Summit was one of only two locations in the United States where live test fires were conducted, and missile boosters can still be found on the hillsides nearby. Tour participants can see the above-ground bunkers that housed the missiles, learn how the missiles were fired, about the role military working dogs played at the site and the hardships of duty at the remote location. Both the above-ground bunkers and the clamshell radar domes that protected the radars used to guide the missiles were unique to Alaska.
The gate to Site Summit is located about seven miles up Arctic Valley Road; visitors will find many wide turnouts on the road where they can take panoramic photos of Anchorage and Cook Inlet. There are several hiking trails, one right across from the Site Summit access gate and others accessible from Arctic Valley Ski Area. Site Summit and the military property adjacent to Arctic Valley and Chugach State Park are off limits; hikers and berry pickers should exercise caution as trespassers will be cited.
The iconic "Christmas Star" that shines over Anchorage between Thanksgiving and mid-March was built by Site Summit soldiers more than 50 years ago and is still maintained by JBER. The star is also lighted on each anniversary of 9/11.