April events at Oracle State Park

An archeology-astronomy specialist, Sonoran Desert herbalist, internationally known landscape artist and bighorn sheep advocate are among April’s featured experts at Oracle State Park Center for Environmental Education.

All programs are free with park admission of $7 per vehicle at the gate on Mt. Lemmon Rd. in Oracle. The park is open weekends with free guided tours of the historic Kannally Ranch house at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday.

Visitors are invited to bring their picnic lunch to enjoy on one of the patios with exceptional mountain views or at a table nestled in the oak-manzanita woodlands.

Richard Boyer, retired seasonal ranger at Rocky Mountain National Park and OSP volunteer, answers questions about bighorn sheep in a 35-minute talk on Sunday, April 5, starting at 12:30 p.m. He’ll cover what’s happening at the wildlife corridor over Highway 77 near Catalina, bighorn history and sheep survival. Reservations are requested.

Joella Jean Mahoney, lifelong landscape painter with a studio in Sedona, offers a landscape drawing workshop on Saturday, April 11, from 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Reservations are required. Joella’s 1985 painting of an OSP landscape was commissioned by the state to commemorate the park’s dedication. Her works, which are exhibited internationally, are inspired by places she has hiked or backpacked. No drawing experience needed; most materials will be provided.

Ken Zoll, cultural astronomy expert with the Arizona Archaeological Society and a site steward with the State Historic Preservation Office, presents an illustrated program on “Ancient Native American Astronomical Observations” on Saturday, April 18, at 3:00 p.m. Reservations are required. This is a repeat of his standing-room-only program in January. Zoll will cover seasonal calendars carved in rocks, which became the foundation of early cultures for hunting and gathering, planting and harvesting, worshiping and celebrating. He is executive director of the Verde Valley Archaeology Center in Camp Verde.

John Slattery, Sonoran Desert herbalist, leads a walking-lecture on “Edible and Medicinal Plants of the Oak Grasslands” on Saturday, April 25, from 9:00 a.m. to noon. Slattery will identify local plants while covering aspects of botany, ethnobotany, harvesting techniques, medicine making, food preparation, clinical applications and how local plants can be used in home landscapes. Reservations are required.

Chuck LeFevre, park volunteer and indigenous plant expert, heads a guided plant walk along some of the easy park trails on Sunday, April 19, at 11:00 a.m.

Persons should make reservations for programs by calling the park office at 1-520-896-2425.

The park, which is open 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. weekends and by appointment on weekdays, has 15 miles of multi-use scenic trails, including four miles of the National Scenic Arizona Trail. For a full listing of upcoming events and activities, go to www.azStateParks.org/Parks/ORAC.