Historic Yates Mill County Park offers public, educational programs for all ages year-round. Visit our Calendar of Events and sign up for our E-Newsletter to stay up to date! 

 

Looking for Guided Tours of Historic Yates Mill? View the Mill Tours page.

Looking for Organized Group Programs? View the Group Programs page.

Interested in Volunteer Opportunities?  Check out the Volunteers-in-Parks page.

Scroll down or select a program series below to learn more about our offerings:
 
  
Ready to sign up? Register online for public programs.
 
Search for programs by location, age, date and more!
 
 
  
 You can register for public programs online at your convenience and
pay for them with a credit/debit card.
 
Learn more under How to Register.
 

   
For a printout of quarterly programs and events, and for a paper copy of the Wake County parks program registration form, refer to the program bulletin below.
 
 

 
The following programs are offered at Historic Yates Mill County Park, 4620 Lake Wheeler Road, Raleigh. For more information, contact the park at 919-856-6675 or email yatesmill@wakegov.com.
    
Our staff also offers public programs at Crowder County Park.
Check out the Crowder programs page for details.
 
Do you want to see Wake County's last remaining water-powered gristmill in action?
Guided mill tours and corn-grinding demonstrations with 19th-century costumed guides take place on the third weekend of each month through November. Details are on our Mill Tours page.
  
Country Dancing in the Mill Yard 
Saturdays, March 16, April 20, May 18, and June 15, noon–12:45 p.m. 
Put on your dancing shoes! Come to the mill yard to join our costumed interpreters Jon and Karena Potter in learning and dancing 19th-century country dances. You do not need to have a partner to dance – just a willing heart and a desire to learn. No registration is required for this free, drop-in program, which will take place during our first corn grinding weekend of the year.
 
The Ross L. Andrews Nature Poetry Contest 
Entries due March 31; Award Ceremony April 26 at the Park
Ross Andrews was a young environmental educator who found that poetry was the path to express his passion for the beauty, wonder, awe and/or intimacy that one experiences with the natural world. In honor of Ross, the Center for Human-Earth Restoration has chosen to remember him with an annual Nature Poetry contest. The contest will have five categories: Grades K–2, 3
5, 68, 912, and Adult, with monetary awards for each category winner. View details here.
 
For all ages (adult accompaniment is required for all children); fee: FREE. Registration is not required. Stop by the Finley Center exhibit hall anytime during the program time.
 
The Vernal Equinox
Wednesday–Sunday, March 20–24, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.

The Vernal Equinox signals the beginning of spring. It is the point when there are exactly 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness at the equator. Mark the change of seasons by heading to the park's Finley Center Exhibit Hall to explore fun facts about this special time of year. Find out about how and why the equinox occurs, and also learn about seasonal folklore and related historical traditions.
 
Going Green 
Monday–Wednesday, April 22–24, between 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
Celebrate Earth Day by coming to the park to learn fun facts about our blue planet, tips on how to reduce your ecological footprint, and how you can reduce waste. Take the Earth Day pledge and make a colorful Earth Bracelet to take home. Then go on a self-guided treasure hunt hike around the millpond to search for “gold coins” that contain earth-friendly helpful hints. For all ages; FREE. Registration is not required. Head to the park center exhibit hall.

 
Abundant Birds
SaturdayMonday, May 4–6, between 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
First observed on May 4, 1894, "Bird Day" is the oldest of the days set aside to recognize birds and build bird conservation awareness. Experience the abundance of bird life found in the park by watching a colorful slideshow of birds found in the park then play a fun game to explore the wide variety of bird shapes, sizes, sounds, and more that are found in nature. For all ages; FREE. Registration is not required. Head to the park center exhibit hall.

 
Extraordinary Turtles
Tuesday
Thursday, May 2123, between 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
Come celebrate Turtle Day by stopping by the park’s visitor’s center to learn some cool facts about North Carolina’s turtles! Meet our live park ambassador – Frankie the Turtle – and play turtle games, make some crafts, and head out into the park to observe our turtles in nature. For all ages, FREE. Registration is not required. Head to the park center exhibit hall.

 
The Longest Summer Day 
FridaySunday, June 21–23, between 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
Every year on June 21, we enjoy the most hours of sunlight during the whole year. Discover the science and cultural celebrations behind this special summer day. Make a pretty suncatcher to hang in your window. For all ages; FREE. Registration is not required. Head to the park center exhibit hall.
  

Art in the Park

For all ages (adult accompaniment is required for all children); fee: FREE. 
 
Artsy Owls
Saturday, March 23, 11 a.m.–noon
Do you love owls? If so, join us to learn all about them! Discover these amazing raptors' adaptations and why they are important to the ecosystem. We will be practicing our different owl calls and learning all about these fascinating birds. Create a Snowy Owl craft and a set of owl wings to take home. Registration is required.

 
Summer Blooms at Yates Mill Pond 
Saturday
Wednesday, May 2529, anytime between 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
Get inspired by the park's natural beauty and contribute to a community art project celebrating the spring season of flowers. Head to the Finley Center to make a few paper flowers and help to decorate the center with them. For all ages; FREE. Registration is not required. Children must have adult accompaniment.

 
Free historic trade displays are offered on the third Saturday of each month, March through November, in the mill yard when the mill is open for tours and grinding corn. For all ages. Registration is not required.
 
Millwrights, Millers & their Apprentices 
Saturday, March 16, 1–4 p.m.
Milling is among the oldest of human occupations. While a miller operates water or wind mills, a millwright builds them and sets up machinery such as drive shafts, gears and mechanical belts. Most millers and millwrights were educated through apprenticeship programs where they received classroom education and on-the-job training. Explore this tabletop display to discover the similarities and differences of these historic trades, sign an apprentice’s contract, and use plastic gears to design your own machine!
 

Seasons on a Farm

For almost 200 years, farmers brought their wheat and corn to what is now Yates Mill to have their grains ground into flour and meal. Free agricultural displays are offered on the third Sunday of each month, March through November, in the mill yard when the mill is open for tours and grinding corn. For all ages. Registration is not required. 
 
Plowing & Planting 
Sunday, March 17, 1–5 p.m.
Learn how farmers plowed the fields and planted crops in the 1800s, see sample farm artifacts, and plant a seed in a newspaper pot to take home.

 
Planting by the Signs 
Saturday, April 20, 1–5 p.m., and Sunday, April 21, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
Learn about the tradition of planting by the signs, the idea that planting crops according to the moon’s phase and astrological signs ensured a successful crop. Then draw your own constellation to take home! For all ages; FREE. Registration is not required.
 
Tending the Crop 
Saturday, May 18, 1–5 p.m., and Sunday, May 19, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
 
Learn how farmers weeded and harrowed the fields to get rid of unwanted plants that would harm their crops, then make a dandelion craft to take home. For all ages; FREE. Registration is not required.

 
Soap Making and Butter Churning
Saturday, June 15, 1–5 p.m., and Sunday, June 16, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.

Learn about common household chores that were important to daily life, such as making soap and churning butter, then try your hand at making butter in a jar! For all ages; FREE! Registration is not required.
 

A Side of History

Milkweed, Monarchs, and More
Friday, April 19, 10–11 a.m.
You may know the important role that milkweed plants play in the life of Monarch butterflies, but did you know that during World War II the government encouraged citizens to collect milkweed fluff to be used in life preservers? Discover the fascinating story of the war-time use of the milkweed plant; learn about the life cycle of Monarch butterflies and the essential role of milkweed plants in the butterflies’ survival; plant seeds in a pot you can take home; make a fun craft, and more! For ages 7 & up; FREE. Registration is required, and children must have adult accompaniment.

 
High Flying Kites
Wednesday, May 22, 10
11:30 a.m.
Making a kite is the perfect fun spring project! Learn about the forces that make kites fly and listen to the story of Benjamin Franklin and his kite (did he really draw electricity from lightning in the sky?). Explore how kites have been used around the world, then make your own high-flying kite to try out in the open field. For ages 5 & up; FREE. Registration is required for all family members, and children must have adult accompaniment.

 
Flag Day Fun
Friday, June 14, 3–4 p.m.

Celebrate Flag Day by delving into the history and lore of the American flag at Historic Yates Mill, which has been around since before the American Revolution. Explore the more than 30 national flag designs that have been used over time and learn to cut out a five-pointed star like Betsy Ross. For ages 5 & up; FREE. Registration is required for all family members, and children must have adult accompaniment.
 

For ages 7–14; FREE. Registration is required. This is a drop-off program, but adults are welcome to stay.
 
Artifact Discovery 
Wednesday, April 17, 10–11 a.m.
Go back in time to the 18th century. Compare life then and now using pictures, artifacts, and modern objects as well as historic reproductions. In a guided inquiry, discover the purposes of several unusual objects from yesteryear. Bundle this program with the History Detective Mill Tour from 11 a.m.
–noon for the ultimate learning experience.
 
Peek into the Pond 
Thursday, May 9, 10:30 a.m.–noon
Many animals and insects live in and by a pond. Take a short walk to learn about Yates Mill Pond's watershed then dip into the pond to explore the diversity of life that exists there. Examine pond organisms and use a microscope for an even closer view. Gain an understanding of what it takes to survive in the water and explore how aquatic life helps us to understand water quality and environmental health. Registration is required.

 
Geology Rocks!  
Monday, June 10, 10:30 a.m.–noon
Sedimentary, metamorphic and igneous rocks are everywhere! Come explore the rocks of Yates Mill through hands-on science. Test the physical and chemical components to discover the identity of rocks then play the rock cycle game. Learn how rocks have been used in milling grains, and try out a few hand mills before taking a hike to the mill dam to discover its geologic foundation.

 

Park Tales

For all ages (adult accompaniment is required for all children); fee: FREE.
Registration is required for all participants – adults and children. Maximum number of participants: 36
 
Turtle Splash! Countdown at the Pond
Thursday, March 7, 11 a.m.–noon
As they are startled by the activities of other nearby creatures, the number of turtles on a log in a pond decreases from 10 to one, in a splash-happy celebration of numbers and animals. Learn about North Carolina turtles and make a fun turtle craft to take home!

 
Counting Crows 
Monday, April 15, 11 a.m.–noon
Crows in red sweaters, nest and caw, gather snacks and dodge a kitty’s paw. How many crows take to the sky? Count all the crows and watch them fly! Join us as we read this adorable story by Kathi Appelt, learn about corvids and all of their smarts, and make a corvid-themed craft to take home.
 
Monarch and Milkweed
Monday, May 6, 11 a.m.noon
Join us as we follow the journey of Monarch butterflies as they migrate thousands of miles every spring in search of their favorite treat; milkweed plants. Explore how caterpillars become butterflies and how the amazing cycle of the Monarch life continues in this fun book by Helen Frost and Leonid Gord. Learn fun facts about these pollinators and make a fun Monarch-themed craft to take home!

 
My Awesome Summer
Wednesday, June 5, 11 a.m.
noon
Mantids are fascinating creatures and skillful predators, too. Stop by for a story following P. Mantis as she grows up and learns to navigate her new world. In her story, she stops for a snack or two (her own siblings 
 yuck!), dodges some predators, and lays eggs that will become baby mantises in the new season. With humorous text and beautiful paintings, Paul Meisel’s story teaches children all about the life cycle of a praying mantis.
For all ages; FREE. Registration is required for all family members, and children must have adult accompaniment.
 
Welcome Spring!
Wednesday, March 20, 2–3 p.m.
Celebrate the coming of Spring by going on a sensory hike around the millpond with a park naturalist. While exploring park wildlife, learn about the history, cultural traditions, and science associated with the Vernal Equinox.

 
Nature's April Fools 
Monday, April 1, 2
3 p.m.
When is a stick not a stick? (When it’s an caterpillar that looks like a twig.) Many plants and animals play tricks on each other – they look or act like something other than what they really are. Join this guided hike to see if they can fool you!
 
Spring Flower Walk
Tuesday, May 28, 11 a.m.–noon

Celebrate the merry month of May in nature! Stroll along the trails around Yates Mill Pond while searching for the many marvelous wildflowers that are in bloom. Explore how flowers function and the types of flowering plants that grow locally; and hear the latest buzz on local pollinators.

 
A Midsummer Day Dream 
Friday, June 21, 11 a.m.–noon
What do Historic Yates Mill County Park and the woodland faeries have in common? They both love nature! Take a short walk near the millpond to search for evidence of faeries (sightings are not guaranteed), explore the astronomical aspects of Midsummer's Day, and hear a few quotes from William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream."


Yates by Night

Signs of Spring
Friday, March 29, 7
8 p.m.
Go on a night hike with a park naturalist to test your sensory skills after dark. We’ll hike past the pond's edge and through forests, wetlands and fields to discover what happens in these habitats at night. The air will be crisp and the land will be alive with night sounds. Come prepared for a fun and engaging spring nighttime adventure! For ages 6 & up (adult accompaniment is required for all children); FREE. Registration is required.

 
Alive After Dark 
Friday, June 7, 7:30–8:30 p.m.
The park comes alive after dark! Let the moon guide your way as we stroll around the pond in search of night time critters. Play fun games and try to catch some nocturnal bugs. Bring a flashlight to spot the spiders! For ages 5 & up (adult accompaniment required for all children); FREE. Registration is required.
 

Recreational Adventures

Registration is required for all family members, and children must have adult accompaniment.
 
In Search of Leprechauns
Friday, March 15, 11 a.m.–noon
The mischievous leprechauns have been playing tricks at Yates Mill. Listen to Irish music, read leprechaun stories and build your own leprechaun trap to help us catch these clever creatures. Be sure to wear green! For ages 6 & up; FREE.

 
Old-time Farming Fun
Tuesday, April 23, 23:30 p.m.
Try your hand at back-to-basics living, just like the Ingalls and Wilder families experienced in the late 1800s and as is described in the Little House on the Prairie book series. Do your farm chores, practice your lessons and handiwork, and make sure to brush up on your best manners. For ages 5 & up; FREE.

 
Paddle the Pond
Saturdays, April 27, May 25 and June 22, 11:00 a.m.–noon
Learn basic canoeing skills and a bit about the millpond's history, then head out to explore the pond's many features as seen only from the water. Canoes, paddles, and life jackets are provided, along with launch assistance. This program is dependent on suitable weather conditions. For ages 5 and up (with an accompanying adult); FREE. Each canoe can hold 1
4 people (800-pound total weight limit). Registration PER BOAT is required. All participants must sign a program waiver.
 
An Orienteering Outing 
Friday, May 17, 3–4:30 p.m.

Celebrate World Orienteering Day by heading outdoors for an orienteering adventure. Track your way through the woods with the help of the sun's light and the earth's magnetic field; and learn to use a compass to navigate your way through an obstacle course. Make maps and memories! For ages 8 & up; FREE.

 
National Go Fishing Day Fun
Tuesday, June 18, 11 a.m.–noon
Come out to the millpond and fish the old-fashioned way 
 we'll provide you with a cane pole, tackle and bait, along with basic instructions and assistance with identifying fish species. You'll need to bring your own luck and patience! For ages 5 & up; FREE.
 

Summer Camps – Registration opens February 1

Yates Mill’s camps offer your child hands-on history and nature activities including tours of the old mill, visits with live animals, hikes, crafts, games and more. There will be two adults with the kids at all times. Kids bring their own snacks and lunch.
Preregistration is required. Camp size is limited (maximum of 12 participants), so sign up early!

To check for space availability, go to Wake County's online registration site or contact the park by phone at 919-856-6675 or by email at yatesmill@wakegov.com.

I. Mill Theater & Art Camp: The Beaver's Tail

Monday–Friday, June 24–28, 9 a.m.–4 p.m.
Drop-off program for ages 7–12; fee: $162/child

Important: Students enrolled in this camp must attend all five days of camp and be available to perform on the afternoon of Friday, June 28.

Once upon a time, there was a beaver that loved to brag about his tail, which was thick with silky fur, not wide and flat like it is today. Beaver spent a lot of time grooming it, while the other woodland creatures went about their business of finding food and shelter for their families. Eventually Beaver's boasting drives away his friends and he is left on his own. But when his tail is flattened in an accident, Beaver learns to value its new shape and seeks to make amends with his friends.

Participate as actors and musicians in an interactive children’s play and explore a wide variety of performing and visual arts in an environment of encouragement and support. Learn and develop skills in acting, improvisation, movement, stage production and adaptation while performing an original mill theater production. No experience required – just bring your high energy and enthusiasm!

II. Park Adventures Summer Camp

Monday–Friday, July 15–19, 9 a.m.–4 p.m.
Drop-off program for ages 7–14; fee: $152/child

This adventure camp allows participants to gain a sense of accomplishment by attaining goals in a unique historical setting and diverse natural environment. Daily camp themes include (1) Early Explorers, (2) Pioneer-Farmers & Agriculture, (3) Millers & Mechanics, (4) History Detectives, and (5) Artist-Naturalists & Ecology.

Among other activities, Day 1 includes a hike around the park, mapping activities, and animal tracks and signs; Day 2 includes a planting activity and visits to a local organic farm; Day 3 includes a mill tour and an inventors workshop with simple machines; Day 4 includes a road trip to the NC Museum of History, historic field games, and artifact discovery; and Day 5 includes wildlife art, pond dipping, canoeing, and cane pole fishing.

 

Camps at Yates Mill Offered by Other Organizations:

Center for Human-Earth Restoration

Youth Unlimited Programs