​Here you can find different activities created by park staff that will allow you to enjoy Historic Yates Mill County Park from home! Please reach out if you have any questions about the resources created or any suggestions for future offerings.



We could use your help!

Park staff is currently in the process of creating a music video, and we want to feature YOUR artwork!

Create your own 3D craft DRAGONFLY, then drop it off at the park's visitor center (in the special bin at the front entrance) between Saturday, Oct. 10, and Sunday, Oct. 18, between 8 a.m. and sunset!

We will reveal the NATURE of this project soon, and you'll have a chance to see your beautiful dragonflies in action!

Print out the dragonfly template here.


Backyard Buddies


Join Wake County park staff as we explore our backyards!

Use #MyBackyardBuddies on social media to share photos of what you see and check out what we're finding, too.

Use the following apps to help you identify wildlife:
  • Seek by Inaturalist
  • Merlin Bird ID
  • INaturalist
Find us on Facebook.
Yates Mill Mobile Tour

While our visitor center is currently closed, our park grounds and trails remain open so we are rolling out a new audio tour that you can listen to either in the park or from home. We hope you like it!
Wake County staff has also developed mobile tours for several other park sites, so we encourage you to check them out as well!



 Yates Mill Nature Puzzles


Try solving some of these beautiful puzzles which are photo captures of the mill, critters, and plants in the park. See if you can put them all back together!



Educational Activities

Fun for all ages:

"Mill Power" Online Explorer PackDiscover how simple machines – wheels and axles, gears, pulleys, screws, inclined planes, wedges and levers – have made work easier for thousands of years! Then explore the simple machines that are employed in our historic water-powered mill (Yates Mill) that help to efficiently get work done, including milling corn into meal and wheat into flour. (The title provides the weblink.)

For groups of 10 people or more, staff is happy to provide interactive online sessions. These sessions last about 30 minutes and are designed to complement the Explorer Pack. Students will need internet access and either a computer, tablet, or phone to join the presentation. Call 919-856-5638 or email yatesmill@wakegov.com to learn more about this. For more details, go to our GROUP PROGRAMS page.

Yates Mill Activity Guide for Families.pdfYates Mill Activity Guide for Families: Print this activity guide and bring it with you on your next visit to the park! (Please note that it was designed to be printed and folded as a booklet; if your printer allows this, you would want to print the document front and back with the paper flipped on the short side.) Printed copies are also available at the park, in front of the main door of the Visitor Center.  

Common Pond Critters.pdfCommon Pond Critters: Want to find out what types of critters are living in your pond or creek? Use the identification guide as you explore.

Interview with a wildflower: Print out this booklet and use it to explore a plant in your own back yard or in the park.

For Elementary Grades

A collection of fun multi-disciplinary activities to help you learn about the old water mill.


For Middle School: 5-Day Curriculum

This is a curriculum assembled by a team of students from the Technology, Engineering, and Design Education department at North Carolina State University. Provided are lesson plans for four days of classroom activity and one visit to the Historic Yates Mill County Park. Each lesson plan is 75 minutes, tailored to fit a middle school on block scheduling.

Yates Mill Wordsearch and Maze

Try your hand at this Wordsearch and Maze. See if you can find all the hidden words of things found at the park and work your way through a milling maze!

Use materials found around your house to create your own waterwheel

Use the printable bingo cards to explore signs of animals in your own backyard.

Do you enjoy observing birds? Well, try out this printable bingo game!

Explore your backyard and see if you can find all the different critters and plants.

Go on a hike to see if you can find everything on this printable scavenger-hunt style activity!

Create this pollinator craft using recyclable materials.
Recipes to try at home!

Use cornmeal to make your very own cake using a recipe from our youth entry in the 2008 Yates Mill Cornmeal Cook-off. This recipe can be found in Yates Mill Associates’ “Yates Mill Cornmeal Cookbook,” which is offered for sale during the park’s corn grinding weekends.
Use cornmeal to make Maple Pecan Corn Muffins using a recipe from Yates Mill Associates "Yates Mill Cornmeal Cookbook." The cookbook is offered for sale during the park’s corn grinding weekends



Spring Has Sprung Collection
It has quickly become spring outdoors, so park staff thought you might enjoy hearing our own reflections regarding what we particularly like about spring in nature and outdoors. Find below different audio recordings from staff, and enjoy!
  • Rebeccah Cope, Program Director for Historic Yates Mill County Park and Crowder County Park, tells us all about the beauty of spring. Listen on Soundcloud here.
  • Bianca Dubé, Park Technician of Education for Crowder County Park and Historic Yates Mill County Park, discusses bluebirds and the joy of watching them build their nests. Listen on Soundcloud here.
  • Patrick Lynch, Park Technician of Operations and Maintenance for Crowder County Park and Historic Yates Mill County Park, will get you prepared to listen to sounds of the frogs, especially when the spring rain starts to fall! Listen on Soundcloud here.frog_clipped_rev_1.png
  • Laura Ketcham, Park Technician for Public History and Volunteer Coordination at Historic Yates Mill County Park and Crowder County Park, focuses on spring's floral delights. Listen on Soundcloud here.
  • Jack Singley, Park Technician for Programs at Historic Yates Mill County Park and Crowder County Park, makes friends with the buzzing bees and shares some information with us about them. Listen on Soundcloud here.


Ask a Ranger Collection: The Den Owners Association

Listen to this adorable adventure that came to life through a collaboration with North Carolina State Parks, Historic Yates Mill County Park, Crowder County Park, and our wonderful volunteers!

Ranger Crystal travels to Yates Mill County Park to help our Program Director, Rebeccah, to get things lined up for the annual "Den Owners Association" meeting. Listen in as they hike and canoe around Yates Mill and chat with everyone from otters to toads and squirrels to grumpy ole Walter, the groundhog. You will learn some interesting facts about many of the Yates Mill residents and concerns of den dwellers.



Bird Day Collection

Monday, May 4 was “Bird Day”. This was the first holiday in the United States dedicated to the celebration of birds. This audio series was created by the staff of Historic Yates Mill County Park and Crowder County Park in NC, in celebration of this special day and in honor of our feathered friends. In these tracks, we talk about our favorite spring bird calls and why we like them (i.e., Is it a sweet or attention-grabbing sound? Does it remind you of an experience or a person? Is there a funny joke about it? Is it a rare bird? Etc.) We hope you enjoy our recollections and stories! Share with us on social media! 
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Listen here


All About Beavers!
Ready to learn all about American beavers? If so, you can join Park Technicians Bianca, Jack, and Patrick and Park Aide Nic, as well as volunteer puppy-dog Bubba (who helps us build a beaver), to explore their unique lifestyle, eating habits, awesome adaptations, and other special features.


The Story of the American Elm
Park staff had originally planned to hold a program for Arbor Day, which is being celebrated on April 24. We planned to explore the history of this special day; examine the importance of trees to daily life; look at some of the threats facing trees today; and take a walk to see different notable trees in the park.
With April programs now canceled, we wanted to share part of that program with you through this video about the American elm tree that can be found in the park mill yard. We hope you will enjoy it!


All About Monarchs
Ready to learn all about the beautiful monarch butterfly? Join Ms. Bianca as we discuss their 3,000 mile migration, life-cycles, adaptations and the conservation efforts that are being put into place to save their habitats. See some up-close footage of monarch caterpillars and learn about the types of plants you can have in your own yard to help out pollinators.




Spring is Here!
Need a moment of peace? Check out these wildlife clips volunteer Sam Ray captured for us to get your daily dose of nature!




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Rain makes its own music. Can you hear the drops hitting the metal roof of the shelter on the Wetlands Boardwalk? Or the splash of water in a puddle (accompanied by a call of a Red-bellied Woodpecker in the background)?

We hope you’ll enjoy the sights and sounds of rain and wind in this video.




An Anniversary Slideshow

It's Historic Yates Mill County Park's 14th anniversary today! We put together a 5-minute reflection on what it took to get the old water mill restored and the park designed and constructed, before its grand opening on May 20, 2006.



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Bird songs heard from the Wetlands Boardwalk

With so many trees now covered with leaves, it can be hard to see the birds that are around us. But your ears can be a powerful way to identify the birds you cannot see.

As you watch and listen to this video, which was filmed at the park’s Wetlands Boardwalk, think about the different sounds you hear. First, you may hear the song of a Carolina Wren, which sings throughout the video; then, if you listen carefully, you may hear the distant drumming of a woodpecker. At the end of the video, you’ll hear the distinctive call of a barred owl. Throughout the video, you may also hear the song of a Northern cardinal in the background as well as the calls of other birds.

What a symphony of sounds nature provides!


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Mussel Movement

Look what was in the creek one evening upstream of Yates Mill Pond – a freshwater mussel! That is a good sign in terms of water quality, considering that they are filter feeders and greatly affected by pollution and creek sedimentation.



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Six little Ducks

While out in the park or in your own neck of the woods, keep your eyes out for new baby animals. Park Technician Jack observed six little mallards at a local pond. It just turned out he knew a song and shared that with the baby ducks. Can you notice the chicks' camouflage? What colors do you see? They really blend in with the ground when they are tightly packed together. Baby ducks have to be careful; they stay very close to their mothers for 1-1/2 to 2 months. Then they waddle out on their own. If you see any baby creatures, we'd love for you to share your observations with us!



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Recently, at a local pond, my family and I (park staff, Jack Singley) went on a nature “safari” hike while social distancing and observed this dragonfly emergence. Dragonflies hatch from eggs laid in the water and are known as nymphs or naiads during their early aquatic stage of life. They undergo metamorphosis to their adult stage within their exoskeleton. They emerge from their skin and spend hours drying their wings in the air until they harden. Then they take flight!





Looking for Little Brown Jugs

Heartleaf (Hexastylis arifolia) has been given the nickname of “Little Brown Jug.” In this short video clip, program director Rebeccah Cope explains why.



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Interview with the Miller: Shaping the Millstone

With tours of the historic gristmill temporarily on hold, park staff wanted to share some interviews with William Robbins, the miller for Historic Yates Mill. Each video will have a different focus. For this episode, William talks about the process of carving a round millstone out of a larger stone. Stay tuned for other videos in the near future!


Special thanks to William for sharing his knowledge.




Busy Bees!
There’s so much activity going on in nature right now, and bees are, well, busy as a bee!


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Turtle Storytime with Ranger Jack
In celebration of World Turtle Day, we have a story reading to share with you about Eastern Box Turtles. We have two story books to share, which are "Box Turtle at Long Pond," by William T. George, and "Emma's Turtle," by Eve Bunting. We hope you enjoy these readings.


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Signs of Summer
The weather is getting warmer but, despite the heat, the critters are staying quite busy! Enjoy these beautiful signs of summer with footage taken by volunteer Sam Ray. 




Interview with the Miller: Ensuring a Flat Millstone Surface
With tours of the historic gristmill temporarily on hold, park staff wanted to share some interviews with William Robbins, the miller for Historic Yates Mill. Each video will have a different focus. For this episode, William talks about ensuring a flat millstone surface. Stay tuned for other videos in the near future!

Special thanks to William for sharing his knowledge.

Learn more about Yates Mill Associates, the nonprofit group that maintains and operates the historic mill, at www.yatesmill.org.




Simple Machines and Mill Structures
We thought we'd share a few items that we have put together regarding simple machines and mill power trains. This two-slide presentation includes an audio file of a poem about simple machines and then a 3-minute video of the mill in operation, with labels included that point out the simple machines employed in the mill to get hard work accomplished.


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Outstanding Cows
We suspect that a lot of folks could use a few peaceful moments these days, so here are some howling cows for you, in a pastural scene. They are not actually making any noise, other than chewing and chomping sounds as they graze the field, but these are some of NC State University's angus cows – thus, the nickname. These cattle are visible from the park in the farm field located to the north of the park entrance drive.


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Baby Beavers
Assistant park manager Richard Smith happened to be in a good spot on the wetlands boardwalk this past Monday evening at 8:20 p.m., when he spied this parent beaver swimming in the creek along with its two adorable babies, known as "kits."
Beavers usually mate for life and form familial colonies. The kits usually remain with their parents up to two years. Kits express some adult behaviors, but require a long period in the family to develop their dam construction skills and other abilities required for independent life.


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Little Bug, Lots of Liquid!
Park staff noticed that there was a lot of clear liquid dripping down the leaves of an Oakleaf Hydrangea plant near the front entrance of our park visitor center. Following the liquid trail up, we discovered this colorful insect on the plant's stem (see the comments section for a close-up picture of this bug, taken by Sam Ray). Then, we saw that there was a LOT of liquid being exuded from it – like, a WHOLE LOT. We theorized that the bug had somehow tapped into the plant's store of liquid sugar and, maybe, was spouting it like an artesian well. Here is what we have found out since...




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Interview With the Miller: Leveling and Using the Millstones
With tours of the historic gristmill temporarily on hold, park staff wanted to share some interviews with William Robbins, the miller for Historic Yates Mill. Each video has a different focus. For this episode, William talks about leveling and using the millstones. Stay tuned for other videos in the near future!






Interview With the Miller: Dressing the Millstone
With tours of the historic gristmill temporarily on hold, park staff wanted to share some interviews with William Robbins, the miller for Historic Yates Mill. Each video will have a different focus. For this episode, William talks about dressing the millstones. Stay tuned for other videos in the near future!


Watch the video here.


A Peek into Yates Mill Pond
Park staff are really missing getting to interact with, and teach, our field trip students, so we thought we'd do a virtual pond study, instead, for now. We have a handheld microscope that can magnify objects to much larger than their actual size, so we thought it would be fun to share with you some of the tiny, little critters that are found in different seasons in the pond.

We plan to do this sort of study more than once, so stay tuned! Meanwhile, we suggest that students study these related terms: Ecology, Habitat, Littoral Zone, Organism, Aquatic Species, Macroinvertebrates and Zooplankton.



Watch the video here.

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Festival of Flight
What a festival of birds we had at the mill a few weeks ago! Watch these swallows dive and soar, executing quick, acrobatic turns as they catch insects on the wing.
There appear to be several types of swallows in these video clips—Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica), identifiable by their deeply forked tails; Northern Rough-winged Swallows (Stelgidopteryx serripennis), with short, more square tails; and possibly Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor).

It’s not unusual to see these swallows feeding at the same time. As noted by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, “When aquatic insects hatch, Barn Swallows may join other swallow species in mixed foraging flocks.”



Watch the video here.

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A Few Backyard Buddies
Park program director Rebeccah Cope reports from home about the wildlife, such as bees, beetles and flies, that she is seeing sheltering down from the rain under the leaves and in the flowers of the native plants in her front yard, where there are many common milkweed, bee balm, Stokes aster and coneflower plants currently blooming.

Ruby-throated hummingbirds have been coming through to feast upon the flower nectar, and a box turtle was recently seen heading toward the fallen Rose of Sharon blossoms, a known favorite snack! There are two subtle paths that cut through this garden area, where the deer have taken shortcuts to their bedding area further down in the shrubs bordering a pocket of wetlands.

Lazy rain drips big drops upon the land as a cottontail rabbit grazes on the lawn, then sits up and rapidly jumps away into the borderlands, where his friends are burrowed in the warm earth. A welcomed cool breeze moves through, and many birds are heard singing their love songs, while other critters nestle down for a while...


Watch the video here.
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Enjoy the Little Things
Start your morning right with this peaceful video, featuring video clips by Sam Ray of small creatures found at Historic Yates Mill and Crowder County Park.


Watch the video here.


More coming soon!!!


Bring the Outside Online!

Liven up your virtual meetings with customized backgrounds from Wake County Parks, Recreation and Open Space.


 Find even more at Wake Parks from Home

Interested in exploring our other Wake County Parks from the comfort of your home? Find all of our Wake County Parks from Home pages at Wake Parks from Home.