Keyhole Canyon Site (Summary Page)

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This page last updated on 10/11/2017

Introduction: As I began to discover more and more rock art sites during my hikes over these past several years, I have become witness to far too many examples of where persons had seemed fit to deface them with graffiti and other examples of damage. Eventually I realized that the sharing of my hiking adventures could have the potential to increase public exposure, and thereby increasing the possibility for even more damage. As a result, I decided to preface each of my rock art pages with the following information to help educate visitors about the importance of these fragile cultural resources. Before scrolling down, I implore you to READ the following ... as well as the linked page providing guidelines for preserving rock art.

Here are a few simple guidelines you can follow that will help to preserve these unique and fragile cultural resources that are part of our heritage. Guidelines for Preserving Rock Art. If you would like to learn more about the Nevada Site Stewardship Program, go to my page ... Nevada Site Stewardship Program (NSSP).

Destination: Keyhole Canyon
Distance from Point of Origin: 39 miles.
Estimated (One Way) Travel Time: About an hour.
Directions: From the Stratosphere Casino head northeast on Las Vegas Blvd about 3 miles and bear right to merge onto US-515/93/95 south towards Boulder City. Follow US-93/95 for 17 miles and then merge onto US-95 South (Veterans Memorial Hwy) toward Searchlight/Laughlin. Drive south towards Searchlight for 15.5 miles and turn left (east) onto an unnamed dirt road (Keyhole Access Road). Keyhole Access Road is 5.8 miles south of Hwy 165 to Nelson, and 3.2 miles south of El Dorado Valley Road (the last named road) between mile markers 42 and 41. Watch for a highway sign indicating a road intersection. The road goes through the barbwire fence at a white cattle guard with a "designated roadway" sign. Go 2.1 miles on this rough, bouncy road to a T-intersection, between the second and third sets of high-tension power lines. At the T-intersection, turn right onto the powerline road (a private road; note the sign about public use), and drive south for 1.8 miles to the first of three roads that fork off to the left. After taking this road it’s less than 0.35 miles from the petroglyphs and the entrance to the canyon.

General Description: Keyhole Canyon is an amazing archaeological area with many petroglyphs and a few pictographs. Keyhole Canyon cuts into a ridge of hard granitic rock that appears to have jutted right out of the desert just yesterday. Just east of the parking area, the mouth of the canyon is about 150 feet wide. However, just several hundred feet in it narrows down to a 15 foot wide, 50 foot tall water-sculpted and polished pour-over that must be spectacular during the rainy season. Vegetation in the surrounding area is mostly creosote bush scrub with low-desert shrubs and grasses, including yucca, cholula, and red barrel cactus.
Special Attraction or Points of Interest:  The main attraction for this site are the many petroglyphs and pictographs. In most petroglyphs sites, the rock art is fairly close to the ground, but here they are unusual because so many are very high on the cliffs.
Primary Activity: Rock-hounding.
Secondary Activities: Photography

Elevation: 2,888 feet.
Best Time To Visit: Cooler months of spring and fall.
Difficulty: Easy.
Facilities: None.
Estimated Round-trip Time: Three to three and 1/2 hours.
More Info On Keyhole Canyon:

11/17/2011 Trip Notes: We made a lunch stop here on our return home from our second attempt to reach the Ireteba Peaks Wilderness Area. Having shot quite a few pictures on our first visit here last month, I was only able to capture a couple of new ones without duplicating previous pictures.

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Birthday Boy
After lunch we had an impromptu “birthday” gathering for Bill, our faithful weekly driver. After singing happy birthday Linda, our trip organizer and chaperone, passed around a bin of chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies for everyone to share.

10/27/2011 Trip Notes: I was amazed at how many petroglyphs adorned the canyon’s entrance and walls. Though most of the petroglyphs are geometric symbols rather than representations of physical things, similar to those found at Grapevine Canyon, there are a several that depict identifiable etchings.

The two pictures below depict the left and right side outcroppings at the mouth of the canyon. As you can see, they both just appear to rise straight up out of the surrounding desert sands.
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These picture below shows one of the members of our group having lunch before we call it a day and head back to Henderson. Both, this shot and the one below it, were taken from inside the mouth of the canyon’s entrance looking outward toward the desert and the western mountain range. You can see the solar energy plant that runs along the west side of Rt 95 in the background of the second photo.
The pictures below, from left to right - top to bottom, contain a wide variety of identifiable etchings such as lizards, big horn sheep, a herd of big horn sheep, human figures, birds, and more sheep.
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The first picture below was taken at from a point about halfway into the canyon. Notice the opening just left of center. The second picture was taken at the base of this solid granite 50-foot chasm that has been carved out by centuries of water pouring down from the wash in the plateau above. If you look closely at the Google Earth image above, you can see that there is a very long wash above this waterfall-like chasm. I would love to visit this place after a few days of heavy rainfall.