Keyhole Cave

May 15th, 2020

Length: 4.8 miles

Route Type: Out & Back

Elevation Gain: 1,942 ft

Dog Friendly: Yes (I wouldn’t bring a dog if you are hiking up into the cave)

Fee: No

Restrooms at trailhead: No


To get to Keyhole Cave from any location is fairly easy. Most map/navigation apps for the phone should work. Just enter Sugarloaf Trailhead as your destination. The parking lot itself is very small so I would recommend getting there early.


You have probably seen a picture of a beautiful cave in Sedona and wondered where it was. There was this beautiful cave we kept seeing pictures of that looked like a keyhole, so we decided to adventure to find this cave. With some google searches, we found out that the name of this cave is Keyhole Cave. However, google doesn’t offer a lot of information on how to get to this cave. Eventually we found the trailhead you need to take.

This cave is very hard to find. At least for us it was. Once you get to the parking lot of Sugarloaf Trailhead you will be able to see the cave in the red rocks. From the parking lot it doesn’t look like the cave will be all that hard to get to. But once you start getting closer to the red rocks, the cave becomes harder to see. We started on Teacup Trail and followed it for about .5 miles. You will pass signs for Thunder Mountain Trail, but you will continue onto Teacup Trail. At this point you will notice that the Teacup Trail continues to go right, but if you look left there is something that looks like a path. We turned left and continued to follow this “path”. I used AllTrails for guidance and once you turn left you will notice that you are no longer on Teacup trail. Instead you will be going completely off trail. Obviously this makes it hard to know where you are supposed to go because there isn’t any signage or a path to follow. We kept going hoping we would get close enough to the red rocks to be able to see where the cave was.

You can see Keyhole Cave from the start of the trail
Stay on Teacup Trail

We accidentally ended up going too far to the west and couldn’t even see where the cave was anymore. We saw a cave that looked like it could be it so we started hiking up to that. It was 1 mile from where we went off trail to get to this cave. I started climbing up into this cave and Owen stayed back because he couldn’t get the right footing. I got about halfway up and realized that there is no way this is it. I definitely started to get a little worried, especially because there was no easy way back down. PLUS there was a giant prickly pear cactus waiting to catch me if I fell. I eventually got down, feeling a little defeated because we couldn’t find where this cave was. However, we decided to continue on our search for Keyhole Cave. We decided to go more to the east, to see if Keyhole Cave was on the other side of this unknown cave. We had to climb up some pretty steep, loose rocks. Once we got up it felt like we were in the right area. We climbed over some big boulders and once we got around the corner we saw the cave! Victory dance!

Steep rocks we had to climb up once we figured out we went the wrong way
The cave we thought was Keyhole Cave

Once we found the cave we thought the hard part was over, but we couldn’t figure out how to get into the cave. It is very steep and there wasn’t a lot to hold on to. Due to sun exhaustion and frustration we had since it took us so long to find the correct cave, we decided to not risk falling and hurting ourselves to climb up into Keyhole Cave. So unfortunately we didn’t get a picture of the incredible view of Sedona that we see everywhere, but we did get some other great pictures. And the view was still incredible from the bottom of the cave. It was breathtaking! We are going to go back to Keyhole Cave again to try to hike to the top. Hopefully the next time we won’t get lost, since we know where we are going! Once we hike it again I will update this blog post. Going back down we followed AllTrails the best we could. We just wanted to get back to where we had already hiked before, but we did stay east going down, instead of going back west (where those steep, loose rocks we had to climb up were). On the way back down we did encounter a rattlesnake. We never actually saw it though. I started to hike towards a big boulder and an overgrown bush and all I heard was a LOUD hiss. I got so scared and immediately started to hike backwards. We decided to go around a different way because we didn’t want to risk it. After this happened my eyes were PEELED to the ground looking for rattlesnakes. Since this isn’t a high trafficked area I would definitely be on the lookout for snakes. We eventually found a wash and followed it until it met back up with where we hiked before on AllTrails and then found Teacup Trail to head back to our car. Overall, the adventure was fun, even though at times we were scared because we didn’t know where we were.

18 thoughts on “Keyhole Cave

  1. Hi Kate, your blog is amazing!! I am planning on doing this hike in a couple of weeks. I just have a quick question. I read in this blog that you were a bit off by a mile or so. My question is, the wash that leads up to the cave where it can be seen from parking lot, do we just go straight up that wash?? Any suggestions and recommendations would be so appreciated!

    1. Hi! The wash is not visible from the parking lot. If you take the trail you’ll see it off to the left. We always like to look at an arial map on Google or similar to get a gauge of the area and when/where to expect landmarks or trail breaks. Depending on recent weather, there may be easier signs or recent water flow through the wash. Good luck and enjoy!

  2. This is not the keyhole cave. The keyhole cave is actually off of Boynton Canyon trail. However, this cave is beautiful and definitely one to add to the list!

    1. Thank you for your comment! From the research we have done and from the shape of the cave we have found it to be Keyhole Cave, but there is no official name. We have heard of the other caves in Sedona and hope to get to those ones soon! ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. The Birthing Cave is near Boynton (accessed via Devilโ€™s Pass). Keyhole is a different cave. Sadly, people now disrespect these areas and you rarely have any peaceful moments there any longer.

    2. Yep, I was thinking the same thing! Amazingly beautiful cave you guys found, but definitely not keyhole cave.

    3. I agree with Jennifer. I hiked up last week. The cliff house in this pic is much larger. You cannot see the keyhole from the parking lot. It is way too far and hidden from the beaten path. I do love the pictures though!

  3. Great post! ๐Ÿ™‚ I tried once to find this cave also and we were unsuccessful. Everything looks different when you get closer! I found this one to be called the Keyhole cave based off of research and word of mouth by others who have visited it. I’m not sure why everyone is saying Keyhole is off Boynton Canyon…that one is the Subway as you’ve been saying.

  4. Thank you for sharing, but I do agree with Steph that people are disrespectful and there is no peace any longer. As an Arizona native I wish social media and blogs would stop showcasing the hidden gems of this beautiful state.

  5. We just hiked to subway cave off Boynton. Its several small caves with the famous one being the keyhole. Its shaped exactly like an old keyhole. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. The hike described here is Keyhole Cave, not the Birthing Cave or Subway Cave (in Boynton Canyon), regardless of how much some photos of that one look like a keyhole. Once you find the wash, it should take you up to the base of the rock where the cave is located. I don’t think this one is as well known yet as the others, and is probably a bit more challenging to hike into, so it gets less traffic. Less traffic means higher probability of snake encounters. Nothing will get your heart racing as much as the sound of a rattler (or multiple rattlers), especially when obscured by brush concealing their exact location! Most rattlers are not aggressive and don’t want to bother you. Just pause, try to gauge the general location, and remind yourself how rare it is for someone to actually suffer a rattlesnake bite despite the rather frequent encounters.

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