U2's Fallen Joshua Tree is the location where Anton Corbijn took the photographs of U2 which appear throughout "The Joshua Tree" album cover art. Central to those photo sessions was one lone joshua tree in the Mojave desert, which came to be known as U2's Tree. In the pictures, the band is standing around the tree in several different poses. Many have searched for the tree, while only a few have found it. I even wondered about its location when visiting Joshua Tree National Park earlier this decade. Little did I know back then that the tree of legend was actually in the backyard of Death Valley, a place which I travel to between 2 to 5 times per year.
At one time, a visit to U2's Joshua Tree no doubt was a very special experience, especially when visiting or finding it for the first time. But the tree died of natural causes in late 2000, and what is now left continues to decay a little bit year by year. Even so, for those of us who grew up listening to U2's album "The Joshua Tree", it is necessary to visit the fallen tree to reflect back on all that we have left behind. And now that the living tree is no more, there are other tributes around the dead tree which have been left by U2 fans, which makes a stop a worthwhile visit even for the casual fan. These include the U2ube, which is a place where you can leave a message letting everybody know how much U2's music has meant to you.
After searching the internet prior to my trip in March of 2008, I came across three suggested places for the location of U2's Fallen Joshua Tree. All three were within about 15 miles of desert along a lonely stretch of highway. Using that as a basis for my search area, I spent several hours "driving around" with Google Earth maps and had a breakthrough. I was able to match up the Google mountain ranges with the ranges in some of the photos on the internet, which had been posted by someone else who took a trip there. As you can see below, I had found the correct area to search. (The comparison shots are now matched up with U2's album artwork. The picture of the Joshua Tree down below is from the CD booklet.)
To compare the photo from the album booklet (top right) with the actual location (below), look closely at the hills in the background. On the left side of the pictures, the hills are higher, then they drop low in the middle, and finally the hills rise back up. Before I had even left home, I was able to pinpoint the correct location by matching on Google Earth.
Here again we are comparing photos from the album booklet (two pictures above) with the actual location (below). Follow the peaks and dips along the ridgeline of the mountain range on the Joshua Tree picture and then compare that with the actual location image and you'll see an exact match.
When we arrived at the location, it only took us minutes to find the location of the tree, which was actually visible from the main road if you know where to look. We walked out there and signed in to the official visitor's log in the U2ube, and took some photographs of the fallen tree and fan tributes which surrounded it. By far, the coolest tribute is the concrete plaque lying on the desert ground which asks: "Have you found what you're looking for?" Indeed, we had, high on the desert plain, where the streets have no name. And with that, all of those years in which I had played "The Joshua Tree" while driving through Death Valley had come full circle. Out of respect for U2 fans, I'm not going to reveal the location of U2's Fallen Joshua Tree, but if you care enough, you will be able to find it. As of August 2011, I've received many e-mails from fans asking for the location of the tree. The problem is, I didn't save that information after I visited it. I had it written down and ended up losing the exact details after the trip. So I couldn't really help even if I wanted to.
Another photo of U2 at the Joshua Tree artwork photo sessions:
Our first picture of U2's Fallen Joshua Tree:
The next two pictures show you a couple of different angles of the fallen tree and the mountains on the horizon:
In this picture, you can see the location of both the U2ube and special plaque in their close proximity to the fallen tree:
Whoever made this special plaque deserves thanks for all the time and effort they put into it:
Steve during his first visit to U2's Fallen Tree. Notice that he brought his Joshua Tree CD with him to listen to on the way and include in the photograph:
This is the U2ube, which opens from one end to store messages from people who appreciate U2's music:
A short distance from the fallen tree, somebody has spelled out "U2 Pride". Pride is the name of the second track on U2's 1984 album Unforgettable Fire, and it remains one of their most well known and famous songs:
This rock artwork represents the Elevation Suitcase. This was a logo used during their Elevation Tour, which supported the 2000 album All That You Can't Leave Behind:
In this final picture that we took, you can see the fallen tree and another joshua tree which was still standing (and also can be seen in a few artwork photographs from the album shoot):
This is one other photograph which I came across which was taken during the album photo shoot sessions a couple decades ago:
And finally, we leave you with another photo from those sessions, which was taken with U2 at Zabriskie Point in Death Valley: