Travel Tuesday: Yuma Proving Grounds

We’re going to try something different here on Minnesota Transplant.

By we, I mean the Imperial We. (I hate it when my Beloved uses the Imperial We: He says “We should buy some snacks next time we go grocery shopping,” but he means I should pick up snacks next time I go grocery shopping. Don’t say we when you’re only giving me orders. Just give me an order.) Here at Minnesota Transplant, you are only involved if you want to be. I will be doing all the heavy lifting here.

We’ll be doing Travel Tuesdays here for a while. I’ll be reviewing some of the places I’ve traveled, particularly some of the places I’ve seen in the past four months, the lion’s share of which was spent in Yuma, Arizona. (Before you get too excited, one of the places I visited was Needles, Calif., which wouldn’t come close to the top of anyone’s list of amazing places to visit. So there’s that.)

As I explain on my About page, I think a Minnesotan views the world through a particular prism. The truth is, we all do. We know what we know, and everything else is a wonder. Or just plain weird. So these little side journeys on Tuesdays come from the perspective of a Minnesotan who transplanted herself in Illinois.

Today we’re looking at one of Yuma’s claims to fame: Yuma Proving Grounds. That would be YPG to insiders.

Yuma is set in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. Without irrigation, all you get is creosote bushes and sand. Which is perfect if you’re the U.S. Army and you need lots of room for military maneuvers exercised in extreme privacy.

YPG is north of Yuma and comprises about 1,300 square miles of sand and secret stuff. According to Wikipedia, “The proving ground conducts tests on nearly every weapon system in the ground combat arsenal. Munitions and artillery systems are tested here in an area almost completely removed from urban encroachment and noise concerns.” The General Motors Desert Proving Grounds can also be seen from Highway 95, and it’s apparently operated in conjunction with the Army.

While we were there, we witnessed a strange white dirigible, also known as an airship or a blimp. Talk about an unidentified flying object. A quick google search reveals it’s used by the U.S. Border Patrol, but I distinctly felt like it was watching me, to make sure I didn’t cross over any fences and see classified things.


Just off Imperial Dam Road (on the south end of the grounds), there’s a visitor’s center of sorts with about a dozen tanks on display. These massive machines are impressive, even if you have no interest in munitions or arsenals. (If you’re interested in — or irate about — how your taxes are spent, a standard tank nowadays costs upwards of $4 million. And there are 10 of them just sitting here in the desert.)

There is a museum on the grounds. I didn’t visit it because I’m not so interested in munitions or arsenals, but I can imagine some folks might be.

In general terms, the sprawl of the proving grounds is yuge (as is the in vogue way of saying huge), and you have to give props to the U.S. government for putting a lot of empty desert to good use. Or, at least, to some use.

Next Travel Tuesday: Quartzsite



One response to “Travel Tuesday: Yuma Proving Grounds

  1. karenmeleese

    That last sentence says it all–some use? War games–you know how much time I have for that!

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