Oracle State Park spring weekend programs appeal to nature lovers

Val Bembenek

Programs exploring the natural world are featured during April and May at Oracle State Park Center for Environmental Education. In addition to a variety of guided plant walks on some of the easy park trails, a bug talk with Arizona Sonora Desert Museum docent Bob Elder is scheduled.

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 Road in Oracle. Call the park office at 520-896-2425 for reservations.

Guided Plant Walk begins at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 16. Learn common plants of the park, including spring wildflower identification. Reservations suggested.

Bear Necessities interactive program with Arizona State Parks volunteer Richard Boyer begins at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 17 in the living room of the Kannally Ranch House. Learn about the black bear of Arizona, bear encounter safety and enjoy an appearance from the Everywhere Bear. Reservations suggested.

Ecotone Plant Walk with Docent Chuck LeFevre is set for Sunday, April 24 from 9:30 to 11:00 a.m. An ecotone is a boundary where adjacent biotic communities overlap and mingle. Join Chuck as he identifies plants straddling the boundary between Oak Woodland and High Desert Grassland. Reservations suggested.

Papermaking with Plants Workshop with paper artisan Val Bembenek is also scheduled for Sunday, April 24 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. Learn basic papermaking using mold and deckle in vats of pulp from regional plants. Reservations required; $12 workshop fee includes park entrance fee.

Arthropod Diversity, a bugs and stuff program on Saturday, April 30 begins at 1:00 p.m. Join Arizona Sonora Desert Museum Docent Bob Elder for a power point presentation to learn more about the world of arthropods of the Sonoran Desert. Reservations suggested.

Edible and Medicinal Plants of the oak grasslands hike with Sonoran Desert Herbalist John Slattery will be held from 10:00 a.m. to noon on Saturday, May 7. Discover the variety of park plants as they relate to food, medicine and ethno-botany – and local landscapes. Reservations suggested; sponsored by Friends of Oracle State Park.

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 through 1933 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.

Up to the minute Oracle State Park event information is always posted on the state parks 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.