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For Immediate Release :: December 12, 2012

Oracle State Park reopens for weekends in February, March, April

By Val Bembenek, Friends of Oracle State Park

Oracle State Park Center for Environmental Education will re-open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays beginning February 2. Spring activities will include the popular guided bird walks and hikes, tours of the historic Kannally ranch house, an astronomy night, continuoius wildlife video showings, nature-based workshops, and Earth Day programs. Park hours are 8AM to 5PM.

Environmental education programs for school children, first through sixth grades, are being scheduled by reservation on weekdays. Thousands of students have learned important environmental principles in these ranger/volunteer-led programs over the last two decades.

The annual Volunteer Training sessions will begin in February. Interested persons can learn more about the park, environmental school programs, and other volunteer needs.

Information about volunteering or other questions is available by calling the park office at 520-895-2425. A complete lineup of activities, most of them free with park admission, is being posted and updated regularly on the Park website.

One of 27 state parks, Oracle State Park is located northeast of Tucson in the northern foothills of the Catalina Mountains and features quite picnic spots, miles of hiking trails, stunning views of the mountains, access to the Arizona Trail plus other oak-woodland trails. Picnicking on the ranch house patio is welcomed. Restaurants and attractions in the quaint community of Oracle are nearby. The park was open Saturdays-only last spring and fall after being closed for more than two years as a result of state budget cuts.

Elevations in the 4,000-acre wildlife refuge range from 3,500 to 4,500 feet. The Park’s extraordinary diversity of animals, plant species, and rock formations enchants visitors time and time again. From oak tree-shaded washes, to mesquite scrub habitats, to riparian woodlands with manzanita and beargrass, the pollution-free vistas to the Galiuro Mountains and across the San Pedro River Valley are unforgettable.

Trails, offering varying degrees of difficulty, are nicely mapped and marked. A four-mile section of the Arizona Trail transects the park. Bring your camera, binoculars, notebook, sketchbook, birdbook, and leash for Fido.

For those seeking a more tranquil experience, the historic Kannally Ranch House and walled patio gardens will not disappoint. This four-level pueblo-revival adobe home with Moorish and Mediterranean influences was built by the Kannally ranching family. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. House tours, scheduled at 10 AM and 2 PM, are free with park admission, so visitors learn the stories behind its hand-carved corbels, stenciled walls, hand-formed fireplace, French casement windows, and cozy ranch kitchen. Displays include family photos, furnishings, and several paintings by self-taught cowboy artist Lee Kannally.

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Photo credits (clockwise)
1. John Hernandez/CopperArea.com
2. Arizona Foothills Magazine
3-4. Karl Pogany
5. Oracle State Park