Driving from Phoenix to L.A. on I-10 can be a boring six hour trip. Let’s face it, there’s not much to see except desert and if you’re coming from Phoenix you probably already seen enough desert. This is exactly why General Patton established the Desert Training Center out here in March of 1942. It was evident at this time in history that the U.S. was going to have to kick Rommel and the German Army out of North Africa so Patton was ordered to establish a suitable desert training site and start training troops for desert combat. He set up his headquarters at Camp Young which is now known at Chiriaco Summit. Eventually the training area was expanded to cover more than 350 miles wide by 250 miles deep and included desert areas of California, Arizona and Nevada. The name was changed to the California/Arizona Maneuver Area and operated for two years before closing in April of 1944. Over one million service men and women trained here.
Today Chiriaco Summit is a great place to stop and stretch your legs, get gas, have lunch, and visit the General Patton Memorial Museum. Inside are exhibits about the desert training and old military equipment and weapons. There is also a very large scale model of the area’s topography. Outside there are several WW11 era tanks and a few later models used in Korea and Vietnam. There is also a memorial wall located at the museum entrance. This is an interesting place well worth stopping and seeing.