Explore Nature and the Sky at Oracle State Park's Environmental Programs October through December

September 23, 2016

PHOENIX - Environmental programs exploring nature and the sky are featured at Oracle State Park from October through December 2016. Oracle State Park is a 4,000-acre wildlife refuge with over 15 miles of trails. The park is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Except as noted, programs are free with park admission of $7 per vehicle at the main gate on Mt. Lemmon Rd. in Oracle. Call the park office at (520) 896-2425 to make reservations, if needed.

Saturday, October 8: Bird Talk and Guided Walk - The walk begins with a one-hour presentation beginning at 3 p.m. in the Kannally Ranch House living room, followed by a 90-minute pre-sunset bird walk, ending about 5:30 p.m. Then about 6 p.m., bring a snack and bird list while watching the sunset. Bird enthusiast, Kathe Anderson, returns with a new program, "Temporary Custody of a Rainbow." Learn the backstory of 10 colorful migrants, such as the yellow warbler, blue grosbeak, summer tanager, and others. Free with park entrance fee. Reservation is suggested.

Sunday, October 9: Birding and Breakfast - Kathe Anderson offers an early morning guided bird walk at the park, beginning at 7 a.m. Following the two-hour walk, participants will be treated to a special breakfast on the patio of the Kannally Ranch House, courtesy of the Friends of Oracle State Park. The group will review the morning sightings and enjoy coffee, treats and great views. $10 includes the park entrance fee. Reservation is required, please call (520) 896-2425.

Saturday, October 15: Super Full Moon Trail Music Event - Take a pre-sunset walk along the Nature Trail Loop while taking in the sounds of live instrumental music at designated spots along the trail from 4 to 5:45 p.m. Walk back to the ranch house patio at sunset to see views of the Supermoon rising. The Supermoon will look extra big at the horizon, because the presence of the full moon coincides with the moon's orbit at its closest position to earth. Park gates will remain open late until 7:30 p.m. Free with park admission, thanks to Friends of Oracle State Park.

Saturday, October 22: Environmental Education Trail Program Sampler - The sampler begins at 1 p.m. Meet at the Group Use Area for a 45-minute Ranger or Docent-led program on the trail. Sample hands-on, interactive activities taken from the Oracle Adventure Program and Oracle Odyssey Program, designed for elementary grade school field trips to the park. Consider how animals depend on the five senses for survival, habitat needs and interrelationships between plants, animals and people. Reservation is required. There is a six participant minimum for families and kids of all ages. Free with park admission.

Sunday, October 30: "A Short Tour of the Sonoran Desert" - The program is presented by Bob Elder, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum's Interpretive Docent. The program begins at 1 p.m. in the living room of the Kannally Ranch House. Get a sampling from a variety of themes including ecology, biodiversity and animal life history information. Free with park admission. Space is limited, please call for a reservation at (520) 896-2425.

Sunday, November 13: Ranger-Led Guided Hike, begins at 1 p.m. - Explore the new two-mile section of the Arizona Trail recently re-routed through the park. Roundtrip three-mile hike returns to windmill via Powerline Trail. Meet at the Kannally Ranch House for shuttle to windmill. Reservation is required. There is a six participant minimum.

Saturday, November 19: Tohono O'odham Basket-weaving Demonstration - Oracle provides traditional bear-grass gathering grounds for people of the lower desert. Elizabeth Jose of the Tohono O'odham Nation will be on hand with a weaving project to show technique, beginning at 1 p.m., on the ranch house patio. Free with park admission, thanks to support by Friends of Oracle State Park.

Sunday, November 20: Ethnobotany Program: Medicine Making Workshop - Sonoran Herbalist, John Slattery, will present the program from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. Using plants which can be found in the park, he'll demonstrate how to make an oil infusion and turn it into a salve, and include some discussion about each plant. John will bring a display of Desert Tortoise Botanicals products for sale, and offer a book-signing along with advanced copies of his new book, Southwest Foraging. Since space is limited, a reservation is required. Workshop Fee: $3 with park entry. Sponsored by Friends of Oracle State Park.

Saturday, December 3: Holiday Wreath Making Workshop from 1 p.m. - 4 p.m. Make your own holiday wreath using plant material gathered at Oracle State Park, including soapberry, mistletoe, buckwheat, manzanita, juniper and more. Space is limited, please call for a reservation. The workshop fee of $10 includes park admission.

Saturday, December 10: Bighorn Basics at 1pm - Join Arizona State Parks volunteer, Richard Boyer, as he presents "Bighorn Basics" at the Kannally Ranch House for a 35-minute talk to learn more about bighorn sheep. What are they? Where have they been? Where are they now? Many of the tools we use can be compared to the tools the Bighorn Sheep use to survive in mountainous areas of Arizona. For several years, Richard presented this Bighorn Basics program at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado where he retired as a seasonal National Park Service Ranger. Free with park admission but a reservation is preferred.

Sunday, December 11: Bear Necessities at 1 p.m - Meet Interpretive docent, Richard Boyer, in the living room of the Kannally Ranch House. Would you like to know more about the black bear of Arizona? Information about bears, an appearance from the "Everywhere Bear," and information about safety around bears will be presented in this interactive 40-minute program. Free with park admission but a reservation is suggested.

Guided tours of the historic Kannally Ranch House are scheduled for 11 a.m. every Saturday and Sunday for 45-minutes. The multi-level Mediterranean-Revival style house, built in 1929-33 by one of the earliest cattle ranching families in Oracle, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. An exhibit of impressionistic-style cowboy paintings by self-taught artist Lee Kannally is on display in the living room and dining room.

The American Avenue trailhead parking lot is open every day to access the National Scenic Arizona Trail, and to accommodate use by night-time stargazers. The park is an International Dark Sky Park, designated in 2014 by the International Dark Sky Association. 

WHAT: Nature Programs at Oracle State Park

WHERE: Oracle State Park - Located in the northern foothills of the Catalina Mountains, northeast of Tucson.

WHEN: October through December 2016 - specific dates above or at AZStateParks.com. Call (520) 896-2425 to make a reservation.

For information about Arizona State Parks and the many recreational, historical and cultural programs call 1-877-MY-PARKS or visit AZStateParks.com

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