Bird-watchers came out early for the "grand reopening" of Oracle State Park about a year ago. Budget cuts have made access to the park a hit-or-miss proposition.


Visitors at Oracle State Park will get an extra day to enjoy the sights there each week when the park reopens on Feb. 2 for three months.

Last year the park near Oracle was open to the public only on Saturdays for the three-month period, but this year it will be open Saturdays and Sundays thanks to a small budget windfall.

"This is fantastic," said Ellen Bilbrey, spokeswoman for Arizona State Parks. "Being open on Sundays is a very positive step" - made possible with funds reallocated during a pause in State Parks hiring.

The park, which was closed in October 2009 by budget cuts, reopened last February through April. That seasonal opening, and another from September to November, were made possible with fundraising by the Friends of Oracle State Park.

The 4,000-acre park - known for its oak grassland landscapes, hiking trails and the historic Kannally Ranch House - will be open to the public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m Saturdays and Sundays from Feb. 2 through April 28. The admission fee is $7 per vehicle.

Bilbrey said the park will be available to school groups Wednesdays through Fridays by reservation.

Reopening the park on a year-round basis depends on the availability of funding in future budgets.

"We would open it full-time in a heartbeat if we could," Bilbrey said.

if you go

• What: Reopening of Oracle State Park.

• When: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, from Feb. 2 through April 28.

• Where: To get to the park from Tucson, drive north on Oracle Road, which becomes Arizona 77, and follow Arizona 77 past Oracle Junction to the town of Oracle. In Oracle, follow American Avenue to a turnoff for Mount Lemmon and the park. Then continue just over a mile to the park entrance.

• Cost: The admission fee is $7 per vehicle.

Contact reporter Doug Kreutz at or at 573-4192. On Twitter: @DouglasKreutz