Canyoneering Route Description
Keyhole Canyon - 3B I
Zion National Park, Utah.
06-01-08, 6 people, 1 Day (Travel time in route 1.7 hours)
09-06-08, 5 people, 1 Day (Travel time in route 2.2 hours)
09-06-08, 2 people, 1 Day (Travel time in route 1.75 hours) In the
08-01-09, 3 people, 1 Day (Travel time in route 2.1 hours)
Time Required - 1.5 to 2 hours
Distance - 0.7 miles Total, 0.2 miles Technical
Rappels - 2 Rappels, Longest Rappel x60 feet.
Longest rap of 60 feet is 2 stages (optionally two raps of 30 feet each).
Elevation Range - 5420 - 5620 Feet
Shuttle Required -No Vehicle - Passenger
Permit Required - Yes
Rappelling and anchor gear, Ropes and or pull cords for rappels up
to 60 feet and 50 feet of 1 inch webbing for sling placement and to
offer handlines if desired. Wet
suits are a good idea even in warm weatehr.
Keyhole Canyon is a great introductory canyon for new people.
The total route is under a mile with less than a quarter mile of it
being technical. In this short distance the canyoneer is
introduced to down climbing, wading / swimming in slot canyons
(including a 60 foot long swim in a very narrow slot) and rappelling
into water (possibly into water deep enough to swim in on the first
rap depending on water levels in the canyon). If a person likes this
canyon, they will have a taste of what lies ahead for them. If
a person does not like the experience, they are only in the canyon
for a short time and do not have to endure a lot of something they
We combined Keyhole and Pine Creek Canyons in one day on 06-01-08.
Keyhole Canyon starts and ends in the same place so there is no need
for a shuttle.
If you would like to try something out of the ordinary do Keyhole in
the light, then go back and do it in the dark! On my first
night run through Keyhole, I thought it would be an eerie experience
but found it was very enjoyable and peaceful. Watching the
light dance on the walls as it was reflected off the water added a
lot. Our only regret was neither of us thought to turn our
head lights off while in there.
To get to the Trailhead
From the East Entrance Gate of Zion National Park on highway 9,
drive 1.9 miles West. There is a small turn out on the south
side of the road that will fit 2 or 3 cars. The route is
started from here and finished here. The waypoint for the
trailhead is where the route leaves the highway about 200 feet
east of this parking area.
To leave the Exit Vehicle / Escape Pod
No exit vehicle is needed. This is done as a loop route.
GPS coordinate information listed at the bottom. For information about waypoint naming and map symbols, refer to the
Click the links for maps of the route.
Map of the entire route.
From where you parked the cars walk East on highway 9 about 200 feet
where the route leaves the highway. From there head about 0.2 mile
north, up the wash leaving the road. Looking up the wash is a small
spire just to right of the major peak ahead. Hike up to the top of
the ridge between the major peak and the small spire. Once at the
top of the ridge (wKeyholeRP-01) just to the left of a small spire
look down over the ridge to see down into the next wash.
From the top of the ridge it is a steep but easy down climbing to
the bottom of the wash on the other side of the ridge. Part of
the way down there is a set of bolt and hangers for rappelling
This section was easy enough to just down climb and I am not sure
why someone took the time to install the bolts.
The Canyon / Technical Section:
Once at the bottom of the down climb (yKeyholeTp) a wash continues north.
Do not follow the wash north. Instead look left (west) as soon
as you get to the bottom of the down climb. You will see a
narrow slot with lots of rocks along the bottom. The beginning
of that slot is what I have marked as the beginning of the technical
portion of Keyhole Canyon. This narrow section is a
little over 400 feet long and has a few easy down climbs of about 8
to 10 feet. The first one starts from a log wedged between the
walls (wKeyholeRP-03). This first section can have ankle to knee deep
water or water a little over waist high depending on water levels.
At the end of this narrow section the canyon opens to a pool and a
sandy area (wKeyholeRP-04).
About 200 feet after the canyon opens, look along the left (south
west) wall for a narrow slot. This is where Rap 1 is located
and is anchored LDC with 2 bolt and hangers. Rap 1
(dKeyholeR1) drops about 25
to 30 feet into the narrow slot under a log into a pool of water.
This pool maybe waist deep or be deep enough to require swimming
depending on water levels.
A short distance after rap 1 is a down climb about 8 feet into a pool
of water a couple feet deep. There is webbing tied to the
choke stone at the top of the down climb to assist. This down
climb can be a little tricky. If the water levels are high in
the canyon, the pool at the bottom of the down climb will be a
swimmer. As you get toward the other side of the pool it
becomes shallow enough to stand.
Immediately after the down climb on the other side of the pool is Rap 2
which is anchored by a single glue in style anchor RDC about head
height. R2 is a double rap. The first section is about
25 feet into a pool a little over knee deep. On the other side
of the pool is the second stage of Rap 2. There is a single
bolt and hanger RDC just below the pool which can be used to finish
the rap if you accidentally pull your ropes before doing the second
stage. The second stage of the rap is down a slope into the
next pool about 25 feet below. This is the last rap in the
canyon and is just over half way through the technical section.
Beyond rap 2 are a few down climbs of anywhere from 4 feet to 9
feet. One of these has a log below to step on for traction.
The top of the log is slick and can be a point of frustration.
If you can locate the notch at the top of the log, it will provide a
foot hold with good traction.
After most of the down climbs is a narrow slot full of water
When water levels are low a small section of this slot is a swimmer,
but most of it is shallow enough that you can walk on the bottom.
When water levels are higher almost the total length of this narrow
slot is a swimmer. It can be stemmed to avoid full on swimming
but takes a lot more energy than simply swimming. The swim is
about 60 feet long with the walls about 3 feet apart.
A little over 300 feet after the swim is where the canyon opens and
the technical section ends. This section has one easy down
climb of about 6 feet. Taller people can stem the walls to
down climb this. There are sections of water to wade through
on the way out.
When you see a way to climb out LDC you have that option.
Climbing out will avoid a little over a hundred feet of water filled
canyon. If you are enjoying the water you can continue in the
water course until it opens up in the wash at the exit of the
After exiting the narrow technical section (yKeyholeBt), continue just over 300
feet down the wash to the road. It is then about 0.1 miles
east on the road to the cars to conclude the route.
Downloadable GPX files
(easier than manual entry and a great way to support
Waypoint naming convention and map symbol information can be found on the Glossary page.
Elevations are approximate.
manually entering coordinates set your system to WGS84 datum and Lat/Lon hddd.ddddd° coordinate format.
Inconsistent datum's and coordinate formats will result in location errors.
Click to show / expand the list of waypoints below........
|Keyhole (Zion) - Waypoints|
Lat/Lon (WGS84): N 37.22414
Elev: 5,389 Feet
Parking turn out for Keyhole Canyon. Large enough for 2 - 3 cars.
Lat/Lon (WGS84): N 37.22394
Elev: 5,430 Feet
Trailhead for the start of Keyhole Canyon.
Lat/Lon (WGS84): N 37.22654
Elev: 5,620 Feet
On top of ridge to the left of a small spire.
Lat/Lon (WGS84): N 37.22675
Elev: 5,600 Feet
A set of bolt and hangers to assist down climb. Not really needed but there anyway.
Lat/Lon (WGS84): N 37.22687
Elev: 5,590 Feet
Top entry for Keyhole Canyon.
Lat/Lon (WGS84): N 37.22679
Elev: 5,534 Feet
Log in the slot with a 10 foot DC.
Lat/Lon (WGS84): N 37.22682
Elev: 5,520 Feet
Canyon opens up.
Lat/Lon (WGS84): N 37.22690
Elev: 5,520 Feet
Rap 1 for Keyhole Canyon. 25-30 feet. Anchored LDC from 2 bolt and hangers.
Lat/Lon (WGS84): N 37.22676
Elev: NaN Feet
Rap 2 in Keyhole Canyon. Double rap 25 feet to pool then 25 feet to pool. Anchored RDC from a glue in anchor. Also a single Bolt and hanger RDC at the top of the second stage.
Lat/Lon (WGS84): N 37.22603
Elev: NaN Feet
Narrow swim in a slot about 60 feet long.
Lat/Lon (WGS84): N 37.22547
Elev: 5,460 Feet
Bottom exit of Keyhole Canyon.
Lat/Lon (WGS84): N 37.22473
Elev: 5,420 Feet
Trailhead for the end of Keyhole Canyon.