Birds and critters highlight April weekends at Oracle State Park

Oracle State Park Center for Environmental Education is packing April weekends with programs ranging from a day-into-evening birding event to presentations about reptiles and black bears. In addition a star party is set for Saturday, April 9, and a small-fee papermaking workshop on April 24.

Bird-lovers’ weekend. “Myths, Tall Tales and True Stories” of the bird world is set for Saturday, April 2. It starts at 3:30 p.m. with Kathe Anderson separating fact from fantasy about hummingbirds, raptors, ravens and other species that figure prominently in cultural folklore. Which stories are too weird to be true? Why are these stories important, whether believable or not?

Following the presentation Kathe will lead a guided bird walk in the park from 5:00-6:30 p.m. wrapping up with sunset happy hour on the ranch house patio. Free with park admission; call park office at 520-896-2425 for a reservation.

The following day, Sunday, April 3, Kathe returns to lead an early morning bird walk at the park. The 6:30 a.m. walk will be followed by breakfast for participants on the patio at 8:30 a.m. thanks to Friends of Oracle State Park. Reservation required; free with park admission.

Starry night. A “Star Party” on Saturday, April 9, will mark International Dark Sky Week. John Barandine, author of The Lost Constellations, will give an afternoon talk followed by telescopes and sky watching with members of the SaddleBrooke Stargazers Club. Reservations suggested.

Handmade paper. “Papermaking with Plants” workshop with paper artisan Val Bembenek begins 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 24. Beginners and experienced alike will make colorful textured sheets using a mold and deckle in vats of iris-leaf pulp. The $12 fee includes park admission; reservation required.

Other April activities include:

April 10: Reptile talk with Ed Moll begins at 1:00 p.m.

April 16: Guided plant walk on park trails begins at 9:00 a.m. and lasts an hour.

April 17: “Bear Necessities” interactive program with AZ State Parks volunteer Richard Boyer at 12:30 p.m. Learn about the black bear of Arizona, bear encounter safety and enjoy an appearance from the “Everywhere Bear.” Reservation suggested.

Guided tours of the historic Kannally ranch house are scheduled for 11:00 a.m. every Saturday and Sunday. The 45-minute tour visits rooms and patios extending down the hillside. 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 park is open 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays; park admission is $7 per car at the main gate on Mt. Lemmon Road in Oracle. Up-to-the-minute Oracle State Park event information is always posted on the state park’s website:

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 or by calling the reservation call center at 520-586-2283. Follow AZStateParks on Twitter and Facebook.