Discovering birds along the trails, learning about colorful species and socializing with other bird lovers will fill the weekend of October 8-9 at Oracle State Park for Environmental Education.
Bird enthusiast Kathe Anderson begins the events with a 3:00 p.m. program on Saturday in the Kannally ranch house entitled “Temporary Custody of a Rainbow.” The new presentation will cover the backstory of 10 colorful migrants such as the yellow warbler, blue grosbeak and summer tanager. This will be followed by a 90-minute pre-sunset bird walk ending at 5:30 p.m. Bring a snack and wrap up round 6:00 p.m. with a bird list. Both events are free with the park entrance fee of $7 per car; reservation suggested.
The park is located just off Mt. Lemmon Rd. in Oracle and is open every weekend from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Visitors are welcome to bring snacks and beverages, tour the ranch house and enjoy the mountain views.
Reservations for programs can be made by calling the park office at 520-896-2425.
Another bird walk at the park will begin at 7:00 a.m. on Sunday with Kathe Anderson. Following the two-hour guided walk, participants will be treated to a special breakfast on the patio of the Kannally ranch house, courtesy of Friends of Oracle State Park. The group will review the morning sightings while enjoying coffee, treats and exceptional views of the mountains. A $10 fee includes park entrance; reservation required.
Also scheduled for October and November:
Saturday, October 15: Super Moon Trail Music event. Take a pre-sunset walk along the Nature Trail loop anytime between 4:00 and 5:45 p.m. to enjoy the sounds of live instrumental music at designated spots. Then relax on the ranch house patio as the sun sets and the “Super Moon” rises. The moon looks extra large at the horizon because the full moon coincides with the moon’s orbit at its closest position to earth. Bring your own snacks and beverages. Park gates will remain open until 7:30 p.m. Free with park admission of $7 per car, thanks to support from Friends of Oracle State Park.
Saturday, October 22: Family friendly Environmental Education Trail Program Sampler. Families with kids of all ages will meet at 1:00 p.m. at the Group Use Area for a 45-minute ranger or docent led program along one of the park’s easy trails. Sample hands-on interactive activities borrowed from the Oracle Adventure Program and Oracle Odyssey Program, which are designed for elementary grade school field trips to the park. Consider how animals depend on the five senses for survival; also habitat needs and interrelationships between plants, animals and people. Free with park admission; reservation required, and there is a six participant minimum.
Sunday, October 30: “A Short Tour of the Sonoran Desert.” This is an Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum presentation by museum interpretive docent Bob Elder. The program begins at 1:00 p.m. in the living room of the Kannally ranch house. Get a sampling from a variety of themes covered by docents presenting outdoor tours of the famed Desert Museum: ecology, biodiversity and animal life history information included. Free with park admission. Space is limited; please call for a reservation.
Sunday, November 13: Ranger-Led Guided Hike. Beginning at 1:00 p.m. explore the new two-mile section of Arizona Trail recently rerouted through the park. Meet at the Kannally Ranch House for shuttle to Windmill. Roundtrip three-mile hike returns to windmill via Powerline Trail. Free with park admission; reservation required for 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 1:00 p.m. on the ranch house patio. Free with park admission thanks to support from Friends of Oracle State Park.
Sunday, November 20: Ethnobotany Program — A Medicine Making Workshop. Plant lovers can join Sonoran Herbalist John Slattery from 10:00 a.m. until noon on the ranch house patio. 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. His own botanical products and books will be for sale as well. A $3 workshop fee includes park entrance. Space is limited; reservation required. Sponsored by Friends of Oracle State Park.
Guided tours of the historic Kannally ranch house are scheduled for 11:00 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.
Note that wedding ceremonies and/or receptions are often scheduled on the ranch house patio, and these private events may limit access to the ranch house and cause guided tours to be re-scheduled. Check the website for up-to-date information.
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.
The park is a 4,000 acre wildlife refuge with over 15 miles of maintained trails for use by hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians.
Up-to-the-minute Oracle State Park event information is always posted at www.azStateParks.com/Parks/ORAC.