Learn about Arizona Black Bears at Oracle State Park

Val Bembenek

Anyone looking for amazing facts about black bears of Arizona will love the “Bear Necessities” interactive program by interpretive docent Richard Boyer set for Sunday, December 6 at the Kannally Ranch House at Oracle State Park Center for Environmental Education. Safety around bears, an appearance of “Everywhere Bear” and a prize for the visitor with the most knowledge about black bears add to the fun. The program begins at 11:00 a.m. and reservations are requested.

The program is free with park admission, as are almost all other scheduled events. When reservations are requested, they can be made by calling Jennifer Rinio, ranger, at the park office at 520-896-2425.

Other December weekend activities include a holiday wreath-making workshop on Saturday, December 12, where participants will develop their designs with locally gathered materials like soapberry, mistletoe, buckwheat, manzanita and juniper. It begins at 1:00 p.m. and a $10 fee includes park admission. Space is limited; reservations are required.

Guided tours of the historic Kannally Ranch House with docent Mary Bast are scheduled for December 5 at 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.; December 13 at 1:00 p.m. and December 19 at 11:00 a.m. 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.

Also on display is a special exhibit of seven out-of-this-world astronomical images by Adam Block from the University of Arizona Mt. Lemmon Sky Center. Adam, recipient of the 2012 Hubble Award, is recognized around the world as a leading astrophotographer. His images are published in magazines, books, posters and widely on the internet. He will offer a presentation and film about astrophotography on Sunday, December 20, beginning at 3:00 p.m. Reservation are suggested.

For hikers, a guided hike along six miles of park trails with Gaston Meloche is set for Saturday, December 19 starting at 8:15 a.m. Call Gaston for reservations at 638-5404. The park, at a comfortable elevation of 4,500 feet, has 15 miles of hiking trails including a section of the National Scenic Arizona Trail and numerous day-use picnic areas as well as vista patios at the ranch house.

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 Rd. in Oracle. Full Oracle State Park event information is always posted on the state parks 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.