USA Tour Day 2: Joshua Tree

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The first time I heard of Joshua Tree was when U2 released their album of the same name in 1987. To date, it’s still one of my favorite U2 albums and the iconic images in the album sleeve have been embedded in my psyche as the avatar of the band. It wasn’t until I left the microcosm of my city and ventured to Los Angeles that I learned that Joshua Tree is actually a type of tree found in abundance at Joshua Tree National Park near the town of Twentynine Palms, San Bernardino, California.

The tourist in me had to ask the person at the entrance about the U2 cover.

“Hi, I’m sure you get this all the time but, is there an actual Joshua Tree, like the one on the U2 cover?”

She laughed sheepishly as she collected maps and guides in return for my entrance fee.

“No, actually, all of these trees that you see here are Joshua Trees. I’ve heard that the actual Joshua Tree used in the U2 album was photographed outside of the park.”

Disappointed, I still ventured in.

The park is beautiful and filled with hikes through isolated desert landscapes underneath picturesque blue skies. Careful not to stay too close to sundown because the temperatures drop dramatically to skin numbing temperatures.

If you’re still trying to recreate the album cover, you’ll find millions of Joshua Tree strewn throughout the park and I’m sure one of them will resemble the original close enough to satisfy U2 fans. However, if you really want to photograph the one on the album, you unfortunately cannot. The tree was actually photographed near Death Valley National Park and the tree fell around the year 2000. Apparently, the site of the downed tree has a plaque in honor of the album and it reads, “Have you found what you’re looking for?”

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