Keyhole Canyon – Zion National Park
Very Cool, and Very, Very Cold, Keyhole is a great little canyon offering a good introduction to technical canyoneering. It tends to be very cold, due to its subterranean and wet nature. This makes a great pre-view for Pine Creek, or a nice quick swim canyon to do on a hot day. Even when super hot out, the length of the swims requires some protection from the cold.
From the Mount Carmel Tunnel, drive east on Utah 9 to the next tunnel. Hit the trip odometer coming out of the tunnel, and drive 1.8 miles to where a shallow wash crosses the road. Park here. This is where you will come out. ( UTM: 12S 0331229 mE 4121471 mN )
The narrow nature of the canyon makes carrying a pack difficult, so bring a minimum of gear. Walk east on the road 1/4 mile and around the corner, then cut left and climb slabs in a slickrock bowl to a pass at the top. Descend steep dirt on the other side to the canyon bottom. (Total approach about 15 minutes).
Enter the Zone
Enter the canyon. The first section of canyon requires a bit of scrambling and maybe a little easy wading. After a bit, the wash opens out again.
A little further, the fun resumes. Turn left and follow the narrows. The canyon drops 30 feet to the edge of a pool. The easiest way to anchor the rappel is not immediately obvious. ( The best way: tie a sling around the big pine across the wash. Put two biners on this, and loop your rope through it. Rappel off, and pull the rope. At the end, have one member of the party return to the pine and retrieve the sling. You can cut up a gulley a hundred feet up the road and descend directly to the tree).
The canyon drops 30 feet to the edge of a pool – rappel off a large tree directly across the main wash. A little further, a second rappel is made off a slung tree stump. Then more canyon fun – a little downclimbing, a few short rappels, some wading, then some swimming, eventually leading to a long, difficult swim down a narrow corrider. Hassle the frogs, survive a few warmer swims, then pop out at the bottom to enjoy the blazing hot sun.