TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Have company coming or looking for an interesting place to visit this year, why not stop by and visit the Oracle State Park. It is open weekends in 2015 and will feature events to honor the park's new 'Dark Sky Park' status, with guided hikes, walks and a tour of the Kannally Ranch House.
On weekdays, the park has school programs by reservation by calling (520) 896-2425 and on weekends is open for hiking, offers tours of the Kannally Ranch House and holds events. Group facilities are also available for weddings and other group gatherings. The Park Entrance Fee is $7 per vehicle for up to four adults. For more information about Oracle State Park call (520) 896-2425 or visit
The following is a schedule of events (Winter 2015):
Saturday, January 24 starting at 3 p.m.: Winter Evening Stargazing Event
- following live music and guest speaker. Help celebrate the accomplishment of the Oracle Dark Skies Committee in bringing recognition and attention to Oracle State Park's dark sky resource in need of protection! From 3 to 5 p.m. enjoy live music in the living room by Oracle's own "Drumension." They will introduce world ambient electronica, or "electronic dreamscapes" and put us in an introspective mood before the evening Star Party. At 5 p.m., Arizona Humanities Council guest speaker, Ken Zoll, will offer a presentation on "Ancient Native American Astronomical Practice." Then stick around after dark for stargazing with telescopes. Stay warm by the indoor fire, outdoor heater and upper patio fire pit, and sip hot cider and hot chocolate. Free with park entrance fee. No reservation needed. The speaker and live music is sponsored by the Friends of Oracle State Park!
Saturday, January 31 starting at 8:30 a.m.: Guided 'Manzanita to Mariposa' Loop Hike (six miles)
. Participants should meet at the Kannally Ranch House. Hike Nature Trail to Manzanita Trail, Arizona Trail to Windmill, on two-track Arizona Trail all the way to Cherry Valley Wash, to Mariposa Trail back to Ranch House. Reservation is required by the day prior at 4 p.m. on Friday, January 30. Call the guide, Gaston Meloche, at (520) 638-5404. The hike is free with park entrance fee or for annual pass holders. A minimum of four hikers is required for a hike to take place.
Saturday, January 31 at Noon: Arizona Trail Virtual Tour.
Join Sirena Dufault, Gateway Community Liaison for the Arizona Trail Association, for a talk and slide show in the living room of the Kannally Ranch House. Whether you are a hiker, mountain biker, equestrian, or Arizona visitor wishing to see more of the diverse landscape of our state, this Arizona Trail Virtual Tour will share views along the National Scenic Arizona Trail. The Arizona Trail is an 800-mile stretch that passes through the entire length of Arizona, beginning just south of the Mexican border, passing through Oracle State Park, and ending north of the Grand Canyon into Utah. Free with park entrance fee, reservation is suggested by calling (520) 896-2425.
Saturday, February 14 starting at 8:30 a.m.: Guided Hike, Granite Overlook to Cherry Valley Wash Loop (six miles)
. Participants should meet at Kannally Ranch House parking lot. Reservation is required by the day prior at 4 p.m. on Friday, February 13. Call the guide, Gaston Meloche, at (520) 638-5404. Free with park entrance fee or for annual pass holders. A minimum of four hikers is required for a hike to take place.
Saturday, February 21 at 11 a.m.: Maynard Dixon Art Talk
, with Jacqueline Feller. The talk takes place in the Kannally Ranch House Living Room. More details will be announced at a later date. Please call for a reservation at (520) 896-2425.
Saturday, February 28 at 8:30 a.m.: Guided Arizona Trail Loop Hike (six miles).
Participants should meet at the Kannally Ranch House parking lot. Hike the Wildlife Corridor Trail to the Arizona Trail, and return via the Manzanita Trail. Reservation required the day prior, Friday, February 27, by 4pm, by calling Guide, Gaston Meloche, directly at (520) 638-5404. Free with park entrance fee or display an AZ State Parks Annual Pass. A minimum of four hikers is required for a hike to take place.
Saturday, March 14 at Noon: Presentation - Gathering and Preparation Techniques of Traditional Apache Foods.
The presentation takes place in the Kannally Ranch House living room, with Herb Stevens, San Carlos Apache and Cultural Center Director. Join us as we celebrate March as Archaeology and Cultural Heritage Awareness Month! The talk will highlight the use of acorn powder and acorn soup, and using sumac berries to make "Apache Kool-Aid." Oracle State Park, located in the high desert oak-grassland foothills at 4,500 feet elevation, has a variety of useful plant resources that continue to be collected and used traditionally by native people of the region for medicine and food. Some examples include the edible acorns from the Emory Oak and Arizona White Oak, and also the lemonade sumac bush, mesquite pods and annual wildflowers. This is a family-friendly event that is free with the park entrance fee of $7 per vehicle. Reservations are suggested by calling (520) 896-2425.
Saturday, March 21: Going for the Gold Dark Sky Celebration.
Oracle State Park has recently been designated the 20th in the world "International Dark Sky Park". More details to come on this all-day-into-evening celebratory special event.
Tours of the Historic Kannally Ranch House:
Tours are offered at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on weekends. Participants should check-in at the Office/Gift Shop. Reservations are NOT required. The tour lasts about 45-minutes and is free with park admission. On the tour, visitors will learn the stories behind its hand-carved corbels, stenciled walls, hand-formed fireplace, French casement windows and cozy ranch kitchen. The Kannally Ranch House is a four-level pueblo-revival adobe home with Moorish and Mediterranean influences. It was built by the Kannally ranching family and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The displays include family photos, furnishings and several paintings by "self-taught" cowboy artist Lee Kannally. Picnicking on the patios is welcome.
Environmental Education Field Trip Programs:
Environmental education programs for school children, first through sixth grades, are scheduled by reservation on weekdays by calling (520) 896-2425. Thousands of students have learned important environmental principles in these ranger/volunteer-led programs over the last two decades.
The Park is open on the weekends for hiking on your own. Oracle State Park has trails that offer varying degrees of difficulty including a four-mile section of the Arizona Trail that transects the park. Bring your camera, binoculars, notebook, sketchbook, bird book and leash for your pet.
Oracle State Park is located northeast of Tucson in the northern foothills of the Catalina Mountains. The Park is a 4,000-acre wildlife refuge, environmental education center and day-use recreation park. The Park features a diversity of animals, plant species and rock formations. There are also oak tree-shaded washes, mesquite scrub habitats and riparian woodlands with manzanita and beargrass.