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:

Wake County Parks COVID-19 Service Update

The health and safety of our visitors and staff remain the top priorities for Wake County Parks, Recreation and Open Space. As Wake County follows the state’s phased approach to lift COVID-19 restrictions, we are also working to safely reopen park services in phases over the coming months.

Wake County parks and preserves have been open throughout the pandemic. Visitors must comply with guidelines set forth by the state, including gathering with no more than 25 people and maintaining physical distance of at least six feet from any other person. External restrooms and water fountains are open.

Measures to limit the number of people allowed in the park at one time remain in place. If a gate is closed or cones are blocking the entrance, that means the park has reached capacity. Parks that are run by towns or cities may be operating differently—please reach out to them directly before visiting their parks.

The following restrictions will remain in place at Wake County parks and preserves through at least September 15:

  • Playgrounds and park centers are closed.
  • Park programs and events are canceled.
  • Special operations, such as boat rentals, group camping and lodge rental, are not available.
  • Shelter rentals and other park use agreements are canceled.
  • Camps are canceled through the end of 2020.

As of 5 p.m. June 26, the State of North Carolina has mandated that people must wear masks or cloth face coverings when in public and unable to adhere to social distancing guidelines. This applies at Wake County’s parks and preserves.

In the meantime, be sure to check out our digital programming. It's Wake Parks from Home!


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.

The Ross L. Andrews Nature Poetry Contest
Entries due March 31; Award Ceremony – place and time to be determined
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, 6–8, 9–12 and Adult, with monetary awards for each category winner.

NC State University’s Farm Animal Days – CANCELED DUE TO COVID-19
Wednesday–Friday, April 22–24, 9 a.m.–2 p.m.
Farm Animal Days gives children a chance to see and touch farm animals and learn about agriculture; tractors will also be on display, and there will be a Yates Mill park exhibit. The event is designed for school field trips, but families and individuals are welcome to attend. The event takes place at NC State University's Beef Educational Unit at 4505 Mid Pines Road (2 miles south of I-40).

For all ages (adult accompaniment is required for all children); FREE. Registration is not required. Stop by the Finley Center exhibit hall anytime during the program time.

Wednesday–Sunday, April 22–26, 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.

Incredible Insects – CANCELED DUE TO COVID-19
Wednesday–Monday, May 20–25, between 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
The summer heat is back, and so are the insects! Join us in the Finley Center exhibit hall to explore the diverse world of insects and do a fun insect-themed craft. Learn about bees, butterflies, dragonflies, lady beetles and other insect friends! Learn cool bug facts and go on a self-guided scavenger hunt to observe insects in nature.

The Longest Summer Day– CANCELED DUE TO COVID-19
Friday–Sunday, June 19–21, 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.

Art in the Park

For all ages (adult accompaniment is required for all children); FREE
Summer Blooms at Yates Mill Pond – CANCELED DUE TO COVID-19
Friday-Monday, May 1–5, anytime between 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
Get inspired by the natural beauty of the park 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.
This display is offered on the weekends when the old mill is open for corn-grinding demonstrations.
Hand Spinners – CANCELED DUE TO COVID-19
Saturday, May 16
1–4 p.m.
Explore the traditional craftsmanship of hand spinning and discover how this trade supports the use of unique fibers and the production of beautiful textiles. Delve into some of the raw materials, tools and creative processes that have been used by these tradespeople and see a member of the Twisted Threads Fiber Guild spin yarn on a wheel!

Saturday, June 20, 1–4 p.m.
Dairy farmers work hard to bring fresh and wholesome milk products to market. Have an “udderly” fun time with NC State University’s Dairy Enterprise System, who own the cows that are located near the park, off Lake Wheeler Road. Learn about cows, explore different cow breeds, and hear what life is like on a dairy farm today as compared to in the past. Also explore how milk is made into butter, cheese and other yummy products.

Celebrating Arbor Day – CANCELED DUE TO COVID-19
Monday, April 20, 11 a.m.–noon
Happy almost-Arbor Day! Discover the history behind this special day; learn about the importance of trees; explore some of the threats that trees are facing from invasive bugs and diseases; and take a short walk to see some notable trees in the park. Then hear the story of the longleaf pines that that once dominated North Carolina’s Coastal Plain and southern Piedmont, and make a tree-related craft to take home! For ages 7 & up; FREE. Registration is required for all family members, and children must have adult accompaniment.

Registration is required. Only attending children need to be registered. Accompanying adults are welcome to stay or to drop off these participating children. Other siblings may not attend.

Nature’s April Fools and Animal Adaptations – CANCELED DUE TO COVID-19
Wednesday, April 1, 10:30 a.m.–noon
When is a stick not a stick? (When it is a 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 and explore the crazy ways that animals have adapted to their surroundings!  For ages 7–14; FREE.

Simple Machines and Power Trains – CANCELED DUE TO COVID-19
Thursday, May 28, 10–11 a.m.
Explore the simple machines that are employed in Yates Mill that help to efficiently get work done, including the wheel and axle, gears, pulleys, screws, inclined planes, wedges and levers. Explore each type through fun, self-guided stations. For ages 7–14; FREE. Note that a History Detective Mill Tour is offered from 11 a.m. to noon – we encourage you to sign up for it for the ultimate program experience.

Wetlands and Watersheds– CANCELED DUE TO COVID-19
Monday, June 8, 10:30 a.m.–noon
Everyone lives in a watershed and everything flows downstream.  Watersheds are areas that drain to a common waterway, such as a stream, lake or wetland, and eventually to the ocean. Explore Yates Mill Pond's watershed and the importance of wetlands to wildlife and humans by taking a short hike and discover how your own actions can affect the health of the environment. For ages 8–14; FREE.

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 (this is how many seats we have in the classroom).

The Little Wood Duck – CANCELED DUE TO COVID-19
Tuesday, March 24, 11 a.m.–noon
The Wood Ducks are nesting and hatchlings are on the way! Join us for an endearing story about a little duck that was born slightly different from his siblings. This story by Brian Wildsmith teaches the importance of sensitivity and individuality. Learn about Wood Ducks and make a fun duck craft! Then take a short hike to look at their habitats. For all ages; FREE. Registration is required for all family members, and children must have adult accompaniment.

Otters Love to Play – CANCELED DUE TO COVID-19
Friday, April 17, 11 a.m.–noon
It is spring, and a litter of baby River Otters emerges from a den to play! Follow the otters through the seasons as they chase one another, slide down mud banks and learn to swim. Join us for “Otters Love to Play,” by Jonathan London, learn some facts about otters, and make a cute otter craft to take home!

The Bugliest Bug – CANCELED DUE TO COVID-19
Wednesday, May 20, 11 a.m.–noon
Join a naturalist on World Bee Day for the reading of "The Bugliest Bug," a children's book about the variety of bugs in our world. Then head outdoors to look down on the ground for bugs that dwell in the leaf litter and up in the sky to see who else we might meet. This program will cover safe practices when observing insects and strategies for observation of small things.

Mouse and Lion– CANCELED DUE TO COVID-19
Tuesday, June 16, 11 a.m.–noon
Mouse and Lion, Aesop's fabled duo, renew their ancient bond in this warm retelling by Rand Burkert and Ekholm Burkert's illustrations. A lion threatens a mouse that wakes him and the mouse begs forgiveness. The lion agrees and sets the mouse free. Later when the lion is in trouble, the mouse helps it out, remembering the mercy it had received. Join us to listen to this iconic and ancient story, learn the history of Aesop’s fables, and take home a neat craft! 

Natural Explorations

For all ages unless otherwise noted; FREE. Registration is required for all family members, and children must have adult accompaniment.

Interview with a Wildflower – CANCELED DUE TO COVID-19
Wednesday, April 29, 2–3:30 p.m.
Get ready for May Day by joining a naturalist for a wildflower study in the park.  We will bring field guides and discover plants and their relationships through guided observation and discovery. We will observe and record the findings we see in quiet observation of plants in their habitats. This program is great for family groups (young children are welcome, but they will need a guiding parent for our activity), or solo folks alike.  For all ages; FREE.

Nature Journaling – CANCELED DUE TO COVID-19
Monday, May 4, 2–3:30 p.m.
Notable scientists, naturalists and philosophers such as Charles Darwin, Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson and John Muir kept journals of their observations, poems and discoveries. Many of their famous literary works and observations were published from their journals. Explore techniques you can use to record your own observations of nature in a journal as we head outdoors to experience learning in a new way. For all ages; FREE.

Leaf It to the Trees– CANCELED DUE TO COVID-19
Friday, June 5, 2–3:30 p.m.
Join a park naturalist on World Environment Day for a field study on trees and their identification methods. We will hike in the park and practice following clues that guide us to identification. Together we will discover where trees thrive and also have conversations about habitat, placement and forest creation.

Yates by Night

Signs of Spring – CANCELED DUE TO COVID-19
Saturday, March 28, 7–8 p.m.
Go on a night hike with a park naturalist to test your sensory skills after dark. We will 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 and up (adult accompaniment is required for all children); FREE. Registration is required.

Mysterious Lives of Lightning Bugs– CANCELED DUE TO COVID-19
Friday, June 12, 7:30–8:30 p.m.
Learn about the firefly's life cycle and discover what makes a lightning bug glow, as well as what species are found in the Raleigh area and how to identify them by their flashes. Weather permitting, the program will move outside so that participants will be able to observe fireflies in action and try to communicate with each other using firefly code. For ages 5 and up (adult accompaniment required for all children); FREE. Registration required.

Recreational Adventures

Saturdays, April 25, May 23 and June 27, 11 a.m.–noon
Learn basic canoeing skills and a bit about the history of the millpond, 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.

National Go Fishing Day Fun – CANCELED DUE TO COVID-19
Thursday, June 18
Session 1: 9–9:45 a.m. and Session 2: 10–10:45 a.m.
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 and up; FREE. Registration is required for all family members, and children must have adult accompaniment.

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 2 adults with the kids at all times. Kids bring their own snacks and/or lunch. Registration is required. Camp size is limited, so sign up early! Registration opens Feb. 1.

To check for space availability and register, 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 Mini Camp: Yankee Doodle

Tues., June 30–Wed., July 1, 9 a.m.–noon AND Thur., July 2, 9 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
Drop off program for ages 6–8; fee: $42/child; COURSE #9679 – CANCELED DUE TO COVID-19

Important: Students enrolled in this camp must attend all three half-days of camp and be available to perform a skit at the park from noon to 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 2.

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!

Explore Independence Day with a fun dose of history. Learn about the American Revolution through a whimsical story set to the popular tune of Yankee Doodle, where mice, rabbits and other woodland creatures bring to life the era’s important events. Then collaborate with other camp kids to create a skit to perform for your families! Costume items will be included for participant use. Camp size is limited to 12 participants.

II. Park Adventures Camp: The Raleigh Renaissance

Monday-Friday, July 20–24, 9 a.m.–3 p.m. 
Drop-off program for ages 9–12; fee: $124/child; COURSE #9680 – CANCELED DUE TO COVID-19

Join us for an adventure camp filled with historical and natural experiences! This week-long camp will include outdoor exploration, hands-on classroom activities and expert guest presenters. Participants will explore various aspects of the European Renaissance (approx. 1300–1600) and learn about what was taking place in the New World and Carolinas during that time period. Costume items will be included for participant use.

Daily camp themes include (1) Mariners, merchants & explorer-naturalists, (2) Mechanics, engineering & inventions, (3) Games of skill, military maneuvers and survival strategies, (4) Farms, fibers & homespun productions, and (5) Feasts, music & pageantry. Camp size is limited to 14 participants.