This canyon is the perfect introduction to technical canyoneering. Keyhole is a short yet beautiful slot canyon that requires complete technical gear, with anchors for three rappels. It is a wet canyon year round. Even in the summer, we would definitely recommend wearing a wetsuit. The water in Keyhole is some of the coldest water in all of Zion National Park, and can be over your head in places depending on the amount of recent rainfall. Keep in mind that this area is prone to flash flooding. Plan your trip accordingly and pay attention to the weather.
Once you have descended the steep dirt trail on the other side of the wash, a slot canyon opens up to your left (west). This is where your journey begins. The first 0.25 miles of the canyon requires nothing technical, only scrambling and wading through the frigid water. The canyon opens after this, giving you plenty of space to prepare for the 30 foot rappel, lowering you back into the dark slots. This rappel is the longest in the canyon. There are two more rappels in the canyon, although the last one can be downclimbed with a bit of finesse.
This canyon requires lots of down-climbing, which may be intimidating for those new to canyoneering. Be extremely careful and make sure your shoes have good grip on them, some of those walls can be slick! I know I left the canyon with my fair share of scrapes of bruises from sliding. At one point, a large boulder drops into a deep pool. This spot can get technical, but a rope with knots in it is tied in to help you make the descent into the water.
After the third rappel, you will reach a narrow, three-foot wide corridor that you might have to swim through, depending on the depth of the water. This corridor is known as the “flooded hallway.” Be sure to look up every once in a while to appreciate the walls towering over your head. They almost completely close off the sky above you, and you can start to see where the canyon got its name.
Keyhole Canyon ended up being a great way to spend a warm afternoon. Since it’s so short, you’ll have plenty of time to check out some of the other hikes and canyons in Zions on the same day. Go check out the Narrows, or extend your day of canyoneering by combining Keyhole with Pine Creek (we will have a description for that canyon on the site soon!). We hope you enjoy Keyhole as much as we did!
Trail Length: 0.75 miles
Time: 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the size of your group and experience level
-wetsuits (highly recommended)
-slings and webbing (in case anchors are unstable)