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Sierra Burrows in Keyhole Canyon.

Keyhole Canyon

Zion National Park
Technical Canyoneering

          Keyhole Canyon has everything that makes technical canyoneering a challenging and fun experience. The canyon has a very narrow and deep slot, plenty of wading; several short down downclimbing problems, multiple short rappels and it is completed by swimming down a long dark narrow corridor. Keyhole Canyon is easy to access and is often used as an introduction to technical canyoneering.

General Information:
Click Here for Google Earth KMZ file.          Click Here for MapKeyhole Canyon is a technical canyoneering adventure that will require 2 hours to complete. Keyhole canyon is rated 3B I using the Canyon Rating System. This route requires complete technical gear. A Zion Backcountry Permit is required for this route. Check the weather report at the Visitor Center when you pick up your permit.

          A 100-foot rope is more than adequate to defeat all the rappels and obstacles in this slot canyon. Drybags are required for anything you don't want wet. I recommend bringing several slings and 20-feet of extra webbing to repair questionable anchors. There is no need for a bolt kit in this canyon, the route is descended by literally hundreds of canyoneers each week.

          The canyon is narrow and short so bring as little gear as possible. Keyhole has some of the coldest water in Zion National Park. Wetsuits are highly recommended. There are several cold swims and protection from hypothermia is required. This canyon is frequented by novice so its not uncommon to be slowed down by a group in front of you.

          Springdale East is the USGS 7.5 minute topographical map that shows Keyhole Canyon. All waypoints and maps for this route use the WGS84 datum. Navigation for this route is easy.

Your handsome tour guide. Sierra, Shauna and Stormy Burrows in the soup.

Trailhead Information:
          From the Zion Canyon Visitor Center drive east on Highway 9. Drive through the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel and continue east to the second tunnel. From the exit of the second tunnel, it is 1.8 miles to where a shallow wash crosses under Highway 9. This is the trailhead, It is easy to recognize by a small turnout on the south (right) side of the road. The turnout will accommodate two or three cars.

Shauna rappeling in Keyhole Canyon. Hot babes in Keyhole.

Route Information:
          From the trailhead (N37 13' 29", W112 54' 08"), walk east on Highway 9 for 1/4 mile. As you round the corner, you will notice an unmaintained footpath (N37 13' 26", W112 54' 02") heading north up a sandy wash; this is your route. Within 100 yards of the road, you will begin climbing a slickrock bowl. You are aiming for the saddle with a large hoodoo on the right. From the saddle (N37 13' 36", W112 54' 03"), descend the steep dirt trail on the north side to the canyon bottom. Enter the narrow slot immediately to the west of the steep dirt hill and head downstream. It is nearly impossible to get lost from this point on. The first 1/4-mile of canyon is a nice little slot canyon, which requires wading and scrambling, but nothing technical.

          The canyon opens up shortly and provides a nice place to relax and put on your wetsuit before the real fun begins. Dig the rope out of your pack and rappel 30-feet into the dark and narrow slot from the two bolts on the south (left) side of the main wash.

          Your next obstacle is a downclimb into a deep pool followed by a 20-foot rappel. The anchor for this rappel is a large glue-in bolt on the north (right) canyon wall. The 20-foot rappel is followed immediately by another pool that requires a short swim and a 25-foot sloping rappel into yet anther pool of water. The sloping third rappel is anchored from a bolt in the north (right) canyon wall. Other options for the third rappel include chaining the second and third rappel together or simply downclimbing the third rappel, which can easily be accomplished by experienced canyoneers.

          A couple more downclimbs will bring you to a long, 3-foot wide, water filled corridor. This obstacle is often referred to as the "flooded hallway".

          You must swim down the hallway using your arms and feet against the walls to propel yourself. At the end of the hallway you will walk down the narrow slot, wading, scrambling and swimming as required. The slot ends with a 50-yard walk back to the trailhead.

Keyhole Canyon - Zion National Park Sierra, Shauna and Stormy in Keyhole Canyon.

          Enjoy a short video of my friends and family romping through Keyhole Canyon.



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