Totem Pole (Monument Valley)

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Totem Pole
USA 10315 Monument Valley Luca Galuzzi 2007.jpg
Totem Pole on the left near Yel-Bichel
Highest point
Elevation5,621 ft (1,713 m) NGVD 29[1]
Prominence381 ft (116 m)[1]
Coordinates36°55′44″N 110°02′51″W / 36.9289533°N 110.0475745°W / 36.9289533; -110.0475745Coordinates: 36°55′44″N 110°02′51″W / 36.9289533°N 110.0475745°W / 36.9289533; -110.0475745[2]
Totem Pole is located in Arizona
Totem Pole
Totem Pole
LocationNavajo County, Arizona, U.S.
Topo mapMitten Buttes
Mountain typeSandstone pillar

The Totem Pole is a pillar or rock spire found in Monument Valley.[3] It is a highly eroded remnant of a butte.

Deserts at the end of the Permian period, 260 million years ago, formed the De Chelly and Wingate Sandstones that make up the buttes, totems, and mesas in Monument Valley.[4]

The Totem Pole rises next to a gathering of thicker spires the Navajo called Yei Bi Chei and can be seen via a self-guided Valley Drive.[5]

Rock climbing[edit]

The Totem Pole was first climbed June 11–13, 1957 by Bill Feuerer, Jerry Gallwas, Mark Powell and Don Wilson. The first ascent route is rated 5.10 YDS A2 in the Yosemite Decimal System. A second route called "Never Never Land" was climbed in 1979.[6]

Parts of the 1975 thriller film The Eiger Sanction (U.S. director Clint Eastwood) were filmed at Totem Pole. According to author Ron Hogan, "[i]n addition to directing and starring in The Eiger Sanction, Clint Eastwood did all his own stunts during the mountain-climbing sequences."[7] Hogan further adds that, Eastwood and his film crew "were the last people to climb Monument Valley's Totem Pole; in order to gain permission for the shoot, they had to agree to clear the mountainside of all the pitons from previous climbing expeditions".[7]


  1. ^ a b "Totem Pole, Arizona". Retrieved 2016-08-22.
  2. ^ "Totem Pole". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2016-08-22.
  3. ^ Davis, Carolyn O'Bagy; Leake, Harvey (2010). Kayenta and Monument Valley. Arcadia Publishing. p. 13. ISBN 978-0-7385-8630-4.
  4. ^ Leach, Nicky. Arizona & the Grand Canyon. Insight Guides (Firm) (Fifth ed.). [London]. ISBN 978-1-78919-701-3. OCLC 1062400657.
  5. ^ Bitler, Teresa (May 2018). Fodor's Arizona. Levin, Mara,, Riley, Elise,, Fodor's Travel Publications, Inc. (12th ed.). [New York, New York?]. ISBN 978-1-64097-026-7. OCLC 1032696402.
  6. ^ Gordon, Todd (May 21, 2007). "Totem Pole: 5.10 YDS A2". Mountain Project. Retrieved January 28, 2021.
  7. ^ a b Hogan, Ron (2005). The Stewardess is Flying the Plane!: American Films of the 1970s. New York: Bulfinch Press. pp. 85. ISBN 082125751X.