Programs exploring the natural world and sky are featured during August and September at Oracle State Park Center for Environmental Education. The park is open 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Except as noted, programs are free with park admission of $7 per car at the main gate on Mt. Lemmon Rd. in Oracle. Call the park office at 520-896-2425 for reservations.
Sunday, August 7: Ethnobotany Series begins with an Acorn Processing Demonstration after a short walk through the oaks and brief discussion about gathering acorns with Sonoran Herbalist John Slattery from 8:00-10:30 a.m. 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. Space is limited; reservation are required. The workshop fee is $3 with park entry. Sponsored by Friends of Oracle State Park.
Saturday, August 20: Mineralogy Program begins at noon in the living room of the Kannally ranch house. Join local mineralogist Wolfgang Mueller for a talk featuring rocks associated with regional mining operations and gems transformed for lapidary uses. Reservation suggested.
Saturday, September 3: Prickly Pear Walk and Talk continues Ethnobotany Programs. Join Sonoran herbalist, John Slattery 8:00-10:30 a.m. With blender and straining equipment, John will demonstrate a relatively quick and simple method to process prickly pear fruits at home. Enjoy a freshly made juice drink at the end. Botanical products and books are for sale on the ranch house patio. Space is limited; reservations are required. The workshop fee is $3 with park entry. Sponsored by Friends of Oracle State Park.
Saturday, September 10: Star Party and Guest Speaker. From 5:30-7:00 p.m. Dr. Thomas A. Fleming will give a presentation on the history of the Steward Observatory. The Steward Observatory is the research arm of the Department of Astronomy at the University of Arizona in Tucson. This year marks its centennial celebration. In 1916 Mrs. Lavinia Steward of Oracle, AZ was a wealthy widow with an interest in astronomy. She memorialized her husband’s name with a generous donation to the university to be used to purchase “a telescope of huge size.” Following the talk from 7:00-9:00 p.m. telescopes by Tucson Amateur Astronomer’s Association will be set up for public night time sky viewing at the ranch house. A reservation is suggested for the 5:30 p.m. presentation.
Saturday, September 24: Plant Walk on the Trail continues Ethnobotany Programs. Sonoran herbalist John Slattery from 9:00-11:00 a.m. and discussion about what is seen. Botanical products and books for sale on the ranch house patio. Space is limited; reservation are required. The workshop fee is $3 with park entry. Sponsored by Friends of Oracle State Park.
Sunday, September 25: Live Music Concert in the Park. Visit our website for details: www.azStateParks.com/Parks/ORAC.
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.
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 on the state park,s website: www.azStateParks.com/Parks/ORAC.
For information about all 28 Arizona State Parks, the Trails and Off-Highway Vehicle Programs and the State Historic Preservation Office, call 800-285-3703. Campsite reservations can be made online at AZStateParks.com or by calling the reservation call center at 520-586-2283. Follow AZStateParks on Twitter and Facebook.