Oracle State Park: Center for Environmental Education
For the Public
The park is open Saturdays and Sundays through through April 27, 2014. Hours will be 8 am - 5 pm. Environmental Education Field Trip Programs for school groups are scheduled weekdays by reservation. Upcoming Events: For reservations, call the park office at (520) 896-2425
Download Oracle SP Events Calendar ( 93 KB PDF)
Weekly: Guided Tours of the Historic Kannally Ranch House
Each Saturday and Sunday beginning at 10 am and 2 pm (between Oct. 5 and April 27, 2014) No reservation is needed. Check in at the Office/Gift-shop. The Mediterranean-Revival Style Ranch House built in 1929, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The tour lasts about 45 minutes and is free with park admission.
Until April 2014: Cowboy Artist Lee Kannally Paintings
An exhibit of impressionist-style paintings by self-taught cowboy artist Lee Kannally is on display at the Kannally Ranch House until April 2014. Nearly 30 oils, many that haven’t been on public display for decades, are included in the exhibit, with 24 on loan from the Oracle Historical Society and the remainder owned by Friends of Oracle State Park.
Leonard L. “Lee” Kannally (1888-1971) was one of five Kannally family members who established the cattle ranch in the early 1900s. An expert horseman and top roper, Lee took up painting as therapy after returning from service in WWI, where he suffered nerve damage due to gas poisoning while stationed in Siberia. According to one historic account, “he did most of his painting while kneeling next to his bed while the canvas was laid flat. This… minimized the involuntary movements” that were the effects of his war injuries. His often-whimsical canvasses feature a mix of cowboys, horses, steers, campfires and even ballerinas. There are similarities in style and color palette to some of deGrazia’s work, though Kannally painted for his own pleasure and neither signed or dated his pieces.
Saturday, March 15: John Slattery Plant Walk
11 am - 1 pm. Join Sonoran Herbalist, John Slattery, for an ethno-botanical plant walk through Oracle State Park. Come see what’s coming up this Spring! John will be sharing knowledge on how our local plants have been used for food and medicine over millennia. The beautiful chaparral/oak woodland of Oracle State Park is a beautiful place to explore our local flora in the spring time. Reservation required. Free with park admission.
Sunday, March 16: Guided Plant Walk
With Chuck LeFevre. Meet at the Ranch House office at 11 am. Free with park admission. No reservation needed.
Sunday, March 23: Where Black Bears and Jaguars Meet: Sky Island Carnivores
Oracle State Park rests within a biological hotspot known as the Sky Island region – home to carnivores such as black bears, bobcats, jaguars, mountain lions, ocelots, coyotes, and wolves. These often misunderstood animals will be the subject of Jessica Moreno, a wildlife biologist with Sky Island Alliance. Complemented with beautiful photos from the region, this presentation will take a look at the natural history and behavior of these animals, how they interact together and with their environment, recent news and action you can take, and some of the myths and fears surrounding them. Free with park admission. Please call for a reservation.
Saturday, March 29: Wildlife Program by Bat Biologist
Ronnie Sidner. Begins at 12:30 pm at the Kannally Ranch House. “What Else Do You Know About Bats?” Did you know there are 27 species of bats currently found in our state? Come add a few facts to your knowledge of our furry flying mammals. Ronnie is a field biologist with 30 years experience specializing in survey and monitoring of bats as a researcher and ecological consultant. There is always something fascinating to observe in the field and she lectures to share that experience with the public to encourage the preservation of native species and habitats. Please call for a reservation. Free with park admission.
Sunday, March 30: Guided Plant Walk
With Chuck LeFevre. Meet at the Ranch House office at 11 am. Free with park admission. No reservation needed.
Saturday April 5: The Nature Conservancy’s Lower San Pedro River Project
Presentation at 11:30 am in the living room of the Kannally Ranch House, with Celeste Andresen. Although the Nature Conservancy works on the entire San Pedro River, the talk will focus on the Lower San Pedro River, which begins just north of 1-10. The discussion will be an overview of the geology, terrain, flora and fauna, include a short video of the Lower San Pedro, plus a slide show of photos taken at the 7B Ranch outside of Mammoth. The program will be about 20 minutes long and allow for questions. Free with park admission. Please call for a reservation.
Saturday, April 5: Nature Journal Making Workshop
1 -3 pm. Taught by Val Bembenek, local paper artisan. Make your own nature-journaling notebooks fom at the Kannally Ranch House. Learn basic Japanese stab binding technique to create blank journals of any size with unique embellishments, for your notes, sketching, photos or to give as gifts. $10 includes the park admission. Reservation required, call (520) 896-2425.
April 6: Bighorn Basics
1 pm. Join Arizona State Parks volunteer Richard Boyer as he presents “Bighorn Basics” at the Kannally Ranch House for a 35-minute talk to learn more about bighorn sheep - including reintroduction efforts and updates on a proposed wildlife corridor to cross Highway 77 near Catalina. What are they? Where have they been? Where are they now? Many of the tools we use can be compared to the tools the Bighorn Sheep use to survive in mountainous areas of Arizona. For several years, Richard has presented this Bighorn Basics program at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado where he recently retired as a seasonal National Park Service Park Ranger. Free with park admission. Reservation required. Download Event Flier ( 623 KB PDF)
Saturday April 12: Bi-National Landscape Restoration in the Sky Islands
Noon in the living room of the Kannally Ranch House. Sky Island Alliance (SIA) is a conservation organization dedicated to the protection and restoration of the rich natural heritage of native species and habitats in the Sky Island region of the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. A cornerstone of SIA’s conservation successes lie in the on-the-ground work of the RESTORE Program, which works cooperatively with government agencies, private landowners, and a corps of capable volunteers on both sides of the US-MX international border to increase ecosystem resilience to the stresses of land management and climate change. Join Carianne Campbell, the RESTORE Program Manager, for a virtual tour of where they have been working and upcoming projects. Free with park admission. Please call for a reservation.
Sunday, April 13: Southwest Landscape Drawing Workshop with Sedona Artist Joella Jean Mahoney
11 am - 1 pm. No drawing experience necessary. “Mahoney is a lifelong painter and has her home and studio in Sedona. Her vivid, powerful, large-scale paintings are exhibited nationally and internationally and are in many public and private collections. Mahoney’s paintings are all inspired by places she has hiked or backpacked. In 1985, the State of Arizona and the Arizona Parks Foundation invited her to produce a painting that would commemorate the dedication of Oracle State Park and establish the visual identity of the park.” A print of the Oracle State Park painting, part of her Monsoon Sky Series, is currently on display at the Kannally Ranch House. Reservation required. Free with park admission.
Saturday, April 19: Reptile Walk
With Herpetologist, Ed Moll. Begins with a presentation at 11 am at the Kannally Ranch House followed by a walk to find and identify lizards and other reptiles at the park. Reservation required. Free with park admission.
Saturday, April 19: Wilderness Talk
Join Rod Mondt of the Sky Island Alliance, for a presentation about wilderness and protected areas on this year’s 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act. Reservation suggested, free with park admission.
Saturday, April 26: Ask Your Master Gardener
11 am to 1 pm at the Kannally Ranch House. The Saddlebrooke Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer gardening questions. If you have a plant you want identified, or bug or pest issues, bring a picture or a sample. Otherwise, just stop by to see their display and pick up useful garden tips. Master Gardeners are dedicated volunteers who assist the Cooperative Extension Service by providing home horticulture information that is endorsed by the University of Arizona.
Saturday, April 26: Garden Talk: The Native Mesquites.
11:30 am at the Kannally Ranch House, with presenter, Kathie Griffin, a Saddle brooke Master Gardener. The presentation will familiarize participants with these amazing desert legumes found in the park. Part 1 – The Tree of Life: Identification of the velvet and honey mesquites, growing patterns, and natural enemies. Part 2 – The Value of the Mesquite: Its importance to animals, plants, the soil, and to humans. Please call for a reservation. Free with park entrance fee.
PBS Interview with Friends of Oracle State Park
Both a wildlife refuge and environmental learning center, Oracle State Park offers groups a chance to learn more about human's impact on nature.
Oracle State Park is a 4,000 acre wildlife refuge in the northern foothills of the Catalina Mountains. Once part of the Kannally family cattle ranch, the unique Mediterranean style ranch house in the park is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Ranging from 3,700 to 4,600 feet in elevation, the surrounding landscape transitions from oak woodland to desert grassland, with sweeping views of the Catalinas and granite boulder outcrops to the south; and San Pedro River Valley and Galiuro Mountains to the north-east. The diverse vegetation, slope and elevation within the park provide habitat for a variety of animals. Oracle State Park offers day-use picnic sites and over 15 miles of trail for use by hikers, bicyclists and equestrians. A four mile section of the Arizona Trail passes through the park, connecting Mexico to Utah.
The purpose of Oracle State Park is to protect the designated wildlife refuge and act as an environmental learning center. Educational trail programs emphasize participatory outdoor learning experiences for all ages. Students learn about habitat and interrelationships between plants, animals and people. Guided walks, workshops, presentations and special events are planned throughout the year to expand awareness and deepen appreciation of natural and cultural resources. An important focus of educational programming at the park is to understand people as part of nature and to clarify options for environmentally appropriate lifestyles
Tour the historic Kannally Ranch House at 10 am and 2 pm, on Saturdays, until April 28.
Although the land has been a park for just a short while, the area has been visited and used by man since prehistoric times. This interaction between man and the park environment has played an important role in shaping the landscape we see today.
Clovis Man occupied areas along the San Pedro River 10,000 to 11,000 years ago and quite possibly visited the current park site during these early times. It is also believed that the Hohokam resided in the relatively flat, grassy areas of the park and used the adjacent woodlands for hunting and food gathering some 600-800 years ago.
In the middle 1880s the Apache Wars had ceased in central and southern Arizona. This opened up large areas to mining, ranching, farming and the settlement of small towns.
In 1902 Neil Kannally arrived in Oracle from Illinois. After moving to the area, he homesteaded the land that would later become the park. Later, other members of the Kannally family joined him. The ranch grew substantially over the next several years and eventually 1100 Hereford cattle grazed the land.
In 1976, Lucile Kannally, the last surviving family member, donated the land to Defenders of Wildlife who later transferred the property to the State Parks Board
The Oracle Adventure: An Environmental Education Program for Grades 1-3
The Oracle Adventure offers an environmental awareness program specifically designed for sensory learning. This participatory and interactive field trip focuses on developing an awareness of nature through the senses. Appreciation of the natural world and our relationship to it is emphasized during a series of hands-on activities along a trail in the 4000 acre park. Park rangers and trained docents will guide the students during the 90 minute program, as they explore the oak-grassland and learn to use all of their senses in this exploration. Teachers receive a packet with pre-visit and post-visit classroom activity suggestions to further enhance the on-site experience.
The Catalina Adventure Program, based on the Oracle Adventure, is also offered seasonally at Catalina State Park. Call (520) 628-5798.
The Oracle Odyssey: An Environmental Education Program for Grades 4-6
The Odyssey sparks curiosity, challenges students to think about the environment in new ways, and encourages students to consider simple positive actions that contribute to healthy environment. The Oracle Odyssey focuses on habitat and interrelationships and includes the study of humans as an integral part of the natural community.
Teachers receive a packet with complete pre-visit and post-visit lesson plans. The materials contain specific key concepts, teacher background information, and student activity sheets. During their field studies, students are guided by park rangers in a series of activities along a trail in the 4,000 acre park. This 2 1/2 hour program of hands-on activities brings ecological concepts learned in the classroom into a real world context.
- Alamo Lake
- Buckskin Mountain
- Cattail Cove
- Lake Havasu
- River Island
- Yuma Quartermaster Depot
- Yuma Territorial Prison
- Dead Horse Ranch
- Fort Verde
- Red Rock
- Riordan Mansion
- Slide Rock
- Verde River Greenway
- Boyce Thompson Arboretum
- Fool Hollow Lake
- Lost Dutchman
- Lyman Lake
- Tonto Natural Bridge