The Friends of Oracle State Park continue to engage with the Oracle State Park during these challenging times. The Board of Directors reportedly meets often to talk about how to best serve the park and the community.
Deborah Gaines, President of the Friends of the Oracle State Park, stated, “ We have created two ad hoc committees. One is exploring ways to restore the sisters’ cottages for limited use, and the other is looking at rebuilding the nature blind.”
With months of more persons being home from work and school, with social distancing in effect, there are not many distractions and forms of recreation left to enjoy. Most of the events that not only entertained the locals, but defined the Tri-Community area to the world at large, are big social affairs; and as such, have been at least temporarily stripped away.
Getting out in nature with your loved ones, perhaps seeing others enjoying the park from the small but important distance that must be maintained, may be a good way to add normalcy back into this strange new way of life, as well as a good method of getting in exercise.
She continued, “ Attendance at the park has been high, although most events have been put on hold. We are excited to have a Virtual Star Party on Friday, Oct. 9.”
While events are being scheduled, it must be noted that social distancing and the use of masks are still in effect and the Oracle State Park is no exception. For information about Arizona State Parks Covid protocol go to azstateparks.com/coronavirus.
If you are not a member of Friends of Oracle State Park, but would like to be there are a few methods open to you. If you have internet access, you may want to visit online at friendsoforaclestatepark.org and select “Become a Friend” on the left side of the page. Alternatively, you may contact Deborah Gaines at firstname.lastname@example.org to have a membership form emailed to you. For those without internet access, a membership form may be requested at the Oracle State Park.
Currently, the hours at which Oracle State Park is open to the public are 8 a.m. through 5 p.m. with the Kannally Ranch House Gift Shop open from 9 a.m. through 4 p.m.. The Mt. Lemmon Road entrance gate closes at 4 p.m. and the exit gate is closed and locked at 5 p.m. As always, the American Avenue Trailhead is open daily, sunrise to sunset for hikers, equestrians and mountain bikers; and nightly for stargazers. No camping will be permitted, either in tent or vehicle, no water will be available and no fires are allowed.
Every day the park is open you are welcome to visit the park and take a self-guided tour of the historic Mediterranean-Revival style Kannally Ranch House which was built in 1929 through 1933 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Wearing a mask and social-distancing is required, without exception to tour the house. A maximum of six persons are allowed to tour the house at one time, for your safety.
Beginning Monday, October 12 COVID-Safe Guided Bird Walks will head out at 8:15 a.m. Due to limited space, with no more than five participants able to join each walk, call ahead to make your reservation. Everyone must agree to wear a mask and socially distance on the trail during the entire guided bird walk.
For this walk, you will join volunteer guide Mary Ellen at the Kannally Ranch House upper patio, in the beautiful Oracle State Park. The park is a quiet place elevated both in height and experience. At 4500 feet elevation, it offers a different habitat to explore than that which can be found around Tucson, which means different species of birds which dwell in these higher climes.
The bird walk is free for AZ State Parks Annual Pass holders, or with park admission of $7 per vehicle. Bird Walk dates include Oct. 19 and 26, 2020. Call Oracle State Park to make a reservation: (520) 896-2425.
Ah, but what of the star party mentioned earlier in this article? On Friday, Oct. 9, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. (Arizona/PDT) the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association (TAAA) Virtual Star Party, which will be recorded in advance, shall be streamed on Facebook and YouTube and will be on both Chats, for the answering of questions and allowing public interaction. The focus of this party will be the Solar System.
To follow the event on Facebook visit at www.facebook.com/TucsonAstronomy/events/. For YouTube, visit www.youtube.com/channel/UCRjjxnxMBbO98o801Bpk19w. For further information on the TAAA visit online at tucsonastronomy.org.
Whether online or at the park, enjoy!