New programs and events fill October weekends at Oracle State Park

Val Bembenek

Summer’s over, and a full schedule of events, programs and hikes is on the calendar at Oracle State Park Center for Environmental Education.

An interactive talk on Arizona black bears on October 11 and an October 17 astro-photography program for beginners are brand new, while old favorites: a birding weekend October 24-25 and an October 18 workshop for making blank stab-bound journals, return.

On October 10 a live-music afternoon social followed by a star party with telescopes begins at 4:00 p.m. The Gullywashers of Tucson will perform. At sundown visitors can watch the stars through telescopes provided by Tucson Amateur Astronomers Assn., Saddlebrooke Stargazers Club and the International Dark Sky Assn.

Complete Oracle State Park event information is always posted on the state park’s website:

The park is open 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Most programs are free with park admission of $7 per car at the main gate on Mt. Lemmon Rd. in Oracle, but reservations are requested by calling Jennifer Rinio, ranger, at the park office at 520-896-2425.

Docent-led tours of the Kannally Ranch House, the multi-level Mediterranean-Revival style house built in 1929, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, are scheduled on October 17 at 10:00 a.m. and on October 25 at 2:00 p.m. Park visitors can tour the ranch house at their leisure anytime the park is open. An exhibit of impressionistic-style cowboy paintings by self-taught artist Lee Kannally remains on display. 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.

Other upcoming highlights.

October 4: Phenology program and optional trail walk explores seasonal changes in local plants and animals, especially their relationship with weather and climate. Begins at 1:00 p.m. reservation preferred.

October 10: Introduction to digital imaging of wildlife and landscapes workshop includes how to set up a wildlife camera and comparisons of digital equipment. Begins at 10:00 a.m.; reservation required.

October 14: Six-mile guided hike along the Wildlife Corridor, Arizona Trail and Manzanita Trail begins at 8:00 a.m. Reservation required.

October 31: Pinal open space and trails presentation by Nature Conservancy speaker.

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.