Keyhole Canyon

Keyhole Canyon is a wonderful skinny slot canyon adventure with an easy and quick approach and exit.

At a Glance
Photo Album:
Keyhole Pictures
Trail Maps: Keyhole Topo Map
Zion Book: Favorite Hikes in and around Zion National ParkDay Canyon:
Distance: .75 miles
Average hiking time: 2 hours
Equipment: 100' rope, 20' of 1' tubular webbing, harness, rappel device, map, dry bag, sticky rubber shoes and wetsuit.
Technical: Downclimbing, rappelling and rope skills are needed. Rappels to 25' into cold water pool. (Bring rope for a 50' combination rappel) Cold water swimming. The first pothole can be difficult to get out of.
ACA Canyon Rating: 3BI
Permits: Required. Keyhole is in the primitive zone and 50 hikers are allowed in Keyhole per day. Check the weather report before hiking this trail. Do not hike if it looks like rain.
Trailhead: Two miles east of the small tunnel.
Trailend: Same as the trailhead.
Trail Access: The Zion Mt. Carmel Hwy is open year-round.
Off the Beaten Path: No
Classic Zion Park Canyon: Yes.
Best season: mid-June to mid-September when the water is warmer and the air is warmer.
Hazards: Call the Zion Canyon Visitors Center for weather conditions prior to the hike: (435) 772-3256. Hiking in slot canyons presents a very real danger from flash flooding. Do not hike this trail if it is raining. Remember a storm far off can trigger a flash flood. Keyhole Canyon has a moderate flash flood danger.

Canyoneering: Never enter a technical canyon without the knowledge and skills needed to safely explore and return. Rappelling and downclimbing skills are required to navigate through Keyhole Canyon. Do not jump. Jumping in Zion's canyons have resulting in many broken bones.

Zion National Park Map Zion National Park Map Coral Pink Sand Dunes Map Zion National Park Lodging Cedar Breaks and Dixie National Forest Map Bryce Canyon and Red Canyon Map Grand Staircase-Escalante Map Parking for Keyhole Canyon is 2 miles east of the small tunnel. A pullout large enough for 3-4 cars is located on the south side of SR- 9. The parking area is at the end of the Keyhole drainage entering from the north. Standing at the parking area and looking north through Keyhole, a glimpse of Jug Handle Arch in the Skyline is possible. Walk east on SR-9, passing Keyhole on the left (staying on the shoulder) for nearly .25 miles, bypassing a second drainage, entering from the left. Continue until another drainage is visible on the left. Enter the third drainage and walk up it (north) until the slickrock on the right side yields to travel. Continue up the slickrock bowl heading for the hoodoo on top. Once on top, travel to the right side of the hoodoo and seek the steep trail back down into the drainage on the north side of the saddle. At the bottom, turn left into the Keyhole drainage and work through the narrow sections until arriving at the first rappel from the large pine tree.

Directions to Zion National Park

From the North: Travel I-15 south, past Beaver. exit on Hwy 20. Follow US-89 to Mount Carmel Junction. Take SR-9 to Zion's east entrance.
From Arizona: Travel US-89A through Fredonia, Arizona and Kanab Utah. Follow US-89 to Mount Carmel Junction. Take SR-9 to the east park entrance.
From the South: Travel I-15 north. Take exit 16 and travel through Hurricane to LaVerkin. Continue on SR-9 to the south entrance of the park. SR-9 through Zion National Park is always open and is also called the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway. See restrictions for RV's

Zion National Park Maps
Zion's Keyhole Canyon

Tanya in Keyhole Canyon. This is a fun little slot canyon that "slots up" more than most of Zion's slots.


Lodging Zion National Park
Lodging Zion National ParkLodging and services are available on the gorgeous east side of Zion National Park, where guests are close to Zion National Park (12 miles), Bryce Canyon National Park (60 miles), Cedar Breaks National Monument (45 miles), Coral Pink Sand Dunes (12 miles), and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon (85 miles). It's where city traffic is absent and the skies are bright and clean.

Keyhole Canyon Trailhead - Rappelling skills are required to navigate through this slot canyon. Remember slot canyons can change dramatically in a short time due to flash floods and water levels in this canyon change. These directions are only a general reference. Be prepared for variations in the canyon.

zion National Park CanyoneeringFirst Rappel - The first drop is about 20' but a longer rope is needed because the anchor is set back. Use a 100' rope to complete the canyon. Some people have slid down the log wedged in the slot at the first drop but is not recommended. There may be a pool of water awaiting you at the bottom of the first rappel. Getting out of the pool can be a challenge. Do not send anyone down alone (first) who might have trouble getting out of the cold water pool without help.

Obstacle - The next challenge is a short 7' downclimb into another (possible) pool of water.

Second Rappel - Continue another 20' downstream to the next anchor. This anchor is a glue-in type eyebolt anchor. This anchor will be used to rappel 20' into a bowl below. Walking across the bowl will afford another anchor opportunity which can be used to continue down another 20' on a low angle slab. There is the option to continue down this slab using the same glue-in anchor used to lower into the dish and then pull the rope once the low angle slab is negotiated. At the bottom of the slab the canyon becomes very deep, dark and convoluted.

Obstacles and cold water swim - Shortly down canyon a somewhat awkward 8' downclimb is encountered providing the way deeper into the slot. A little further down-canyon brings a somewhat easier 10' downclimb which ends in a narrow section of swimming which may be somewhat long (100') and cold.

Notice how the water in Keyhole gets increasingly colder while navigating through the canyon. Meandering down canyon for the next 150 yards brings a couple of wading pools and eventually the end of Keyhole Slot Canyon. The road is visible from the end of the canyon and once on the road the parking area of Keyhole is in view.

Southern Utah Flash Flood info.
North Fork Virgin River - Flash Flood Info

Options - Jug Handle Arch is an hiking option.

zion National Park CanyoneeringGPS Coordinates WGS84 Datum

Keyhole Slot Canyon

Parking at:

Start of Keyhole:

End of Keyhole Slot:

Total Hike Length: .25 miles

please link to meBeta: Coordinates and other trail and canyoneering information by Zion Park search and rescue veteran team member Bo Beck and author Tanya Milligan.

To post trip reports, offer corrections, updates, or for more information please visit the Zion National Park Forum

Suggested Gear: A sturdy pair of shoes are recommend to hike the trails in Zion National Park. Many quality shoes will help grip the rocks and prevent injury.


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