Seven Keyholes Slot Canyon – Nevada - Atlas Obscura

Seven Keyholes Slot Canyon

An unusual slot canyon in the Aztec/Navajo Sandstone has a cross-section like an inverted old-fashioned keyhole. 


Slot canyons usually have nearly parallel sides, or even taper downward. They are common in the Aztec/Navajo sandstone, which is responsible for so much spectacular scenery in this part of the world. This slot canyon is unusual, however, in that it’s wider at the base, with a nearly circular cross-section.

The overall canyon cross-section looks something like an old-fashioned keyhole turned upside down. Presumably, the sandstone near the bottom of the canyon is a bit softer so it’s eroded out more. There are several different keyhole-shaped sections of the canyon, separated by breaks nearly perpendicular to the canyon, but even so “seven” keyholes is a bit of poetic license.

More weird erosional forms occur in the immediate vicinity of the slot canyon entrance. They are reminiscent of the erosional features seen in Little Finland, which is not far away.

Know Before You Go

Seven Keyholes Slot Canyon lies completely within Gold Butte National Monument. From Whitney Pocket, at the end of the rough paved road, continue toward Gold Butte and make the turn toward Little Finland, on the right after 3.8 miles. This junction should be signed.

Continue 3.2 miles to a T-junction (which should also be signed) just upstream from a gap; go right here. Continue 1.2 miles, traversing the gap, and turn left onto another dirt road that will at first climb steeply and then parallel the wash below on the right for about 1.3 miles. It then bends left to climb over a low pass. After 0.6 miles keep left at a Y-intersection. In another 0.1 mile this road will join the Gold Butte Wash road.

Do NOT continue on the Gold Butte Wash road, however. At this intersection (about 36.442750 N, 114.232212 W) a primitive road makes a shallow left; turn here, as this is the road to the trailhead. The road switchbacks to the top of the ridge and then goes generally south for about a mile.

The current trailhead is at 36.434289 N, 114.224027 W; beyond this point, the road used to drop down into a canyon to get to the slot canyon entrance, but that section is now closed to motorized travel. The actual slot canyon entrance is about 36.431001 N, 114.221409 W, which is called the "trailhead" on Google maps.

These roads, particularly after the turnoff from the road to Little Finland, will require high clearance, and 4wd will be useful, particularly in wet weather.

While in the area both Little Finland and Devil's Throat are easy side trips.

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February 24, 2023

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