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, NC 27603. 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 takes place on the third weekend of each month through November. Details are on our Mill Tours page. 
 
 
Shown is the 2017 Mill as Muse Best-in-Show "Winter Scene" Photograph by Stephan Herzog.

12th Annual Mill as Muse Community Art & Photography Contests
Thursday, Feb. 1; entries due before 5 p.m.
Share your artistic creations by entering the 12th annual community art and photography contests. Contest rules will be posted in January 2018. The contests include youth and adult categories with mill, nature, and people in the park as subjects. Contest Entries due: Thursday, Feb. 1 before 5 p.m. Details: Art Contest Entry Form and Rules 2018 and Photography Contest Entry Form and Rules 2018
 
12th Annual Mill as Muse Award Ceremony & Reception
Friday, Feb. 9, 6–7:30 p.m.
Yates Mill has served as a source of artistic inspiration for more than two centuries and continues to be the subject of numerous local works of art. Help us to celebrate the opening of the park’s 12th annual community art and photography exhibit, applaud the art and photography contest winners, and meet some of the artists. For all ages; fee: FREE. Light refreshments will be served. Registration is not required.
 
NC State University’s Farm Animal Days
Wednesday–Friday, March 21–23, 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 (preschool through first grade), 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). View more information here.
 

The Great Backyard Bird Count

A Year of Birding at Yates Mill Pond
Friday–Monday, Feb. 16–19, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
Come by the park center any time during the four days of the Great Backyard Bird Count to view a free slideshow of the birds of Yates Mill Pond. Over 150 photographs of birds are featured in the show, along with a few cool mammals. This slideshow, which has accompanying music, was put together a few years ago by photographer Paula Page.
 
Build a Bluebird House
Friday, Feb. 16, 2–4 p.m.
Learn about the history of the Eastern Bluebird and how you can attract them to your yard. Hike with us along our bluebird trail to check the boxes and prepare them for the coming season. Then make your own nest box to take home. For all ages (adult accompaniment is required for all children); fee: $12/box (there are 10 boxes available). Preregistration is required.
 
Breakfast with the Birds
Saturday, Feb. 17, 9–10:30 a.m.
Enjoy doughnuts with a cup of shade-grown, bird-friendly coffee or hot chocolate for the kids, before leisurely walking the trails with a park naturalist to identify and count the birds. Please bring a reusable mug for each member of your family. For all ages; fee: FREE. Registration is required for all participants, and children must have adult accompaniment.
 
Afternoon Backyard Bird Count
Sunday, Feb. 18, 2:30–3:30 p.m.
Join a park naturalist on a one-mile hike around Yates Mill Pond and help to identify and count the birds that we see along the way. Learn how to identify backyard birds by sight, sound and other signs. For all ages (adult accompaniment is required for all children); FREE. Preregistration is not required.
 
Discovery Table: National Birds
Monday, Feb. 19, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
Is it true that Turkey and Eagle once faced off to see who would be our national bird? Find out the answer and discover the natural characteristics that made each bird a contender. Celebrate Presidents Day and the Great Backyard Bird Count in one fell swoop! Learn about the use of birds in national symbols and make your own bird-themed Great Seal to take home. For all ages; fee: FREE. Registration is not required.
 
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.
  
Wizened Woodchucks & Weather Predictors
Friday, Feb. 2, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
How did people predict the weather before The Weather Channel? Can animals really help? Come to the visitor center and check out some at-home weather equipment you can make with recycled and natural materials, and put our colonial "weather proverbs" to the test.
 
National Birds (GBBC)
Monday, Feb. 19, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
See the Great Backyard Bird Count section above for this description.
 
The Vernal Equinox – LK
Tuesday, March 20, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
The Vernal Equinox signals the beginning of Spring. It is the point where 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.
  

Art in the Park 

Mill as Muse Creative Art Session
Sunday, Jan. 28, 1–4 p.m.
Explore your artistic side by creating a work of art to take home or to enter into the “Mill as Muse” art contest (entries due February 1). A variety of inspirational arts and crafts materials will be provided, and a brief slide show will be shown featuring artistic creations related to Yates Mill. Come anytime during the program time-frame. For all ages; fee: $1/person. Registration is required for all participants, and children must have adult accompaniment.
 
Colorful Valentines
Monday–Wednesday, Feb. 12–14, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
Come join us in the park center for some Valentine’s Day arts and crafts! Create valentines for your friends, make some love bugs, and take home your own valentine tree. For all ages (adult accompaniment is required for all children); fee: FREE. Registration is not required.
 
Artsy Owls
Saturday, March 24, 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. For all ages (adult accompaniment is required for all children); fee: FREE. Registration is required.

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. 

The Postman
Saturday, March 17, 1–4 p.m.
For centuries mail has connected people around the globe. Check out this tabletop exhibit to learn about the history of the United States Postal Service (the second oldest federal department in the United States) and the origins of the postage stamp. Look at a copy of an 1890s postcard featuring Yates Mill, then design your own postcard.
 

Seasons on a Farm

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 18, 1–5 p.m.
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. Today, you can stop by the Yates Mill visitor center to see a tabletop display about what tasks 19th-century farmers and their families would be doing each month as part of their life on a farm. In March, 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.
 

A Side of History 

The Legends of Saint Valentine
Saturday, Feb. 10, 11 a.m.–noon
Every February 14, flowers and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine. But who is this mysterious saint, and where did these traditions come from? Find out about the history of this centuries-old holiday, from ancient Roman rituals to the customs of Victorian England. Then create a Valentine's Day card to give to a special someone. For all ages; fee: $1/person. Registration is required for all family members, and children must have adult accompaniment.
   

Animal Adaptations
Monday, Feb. 26, 10:30 a.m.–noon
How do animals survive and thrive in the wild? Study the behaviors and body parts that make animals successful. Examine animal mounts, skulls, tracks, scat, and more in our science classroom and observe animals in action on an around-the-pond hike. For ages 7–14; fee: $6/child. Registration is required. This is a drop-off program, but adults are welcome to stay.
 
Artifact Discovery
Monday, March 5, 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. For ages 7–14; fee: $4/child. Registration is required. This is a drop-off program, but adults are welcome to stay. Bundle this program with the History Detective Mill Tour from 11 a.m.–noon for the ultimate learning experience.
 

Park Tales

For all ages (adult accompaniment is required for all children); fee: FREE.
Registration is not required.
 
The Lorax Speaks for the Trees
Friday, Jan. 12, 11 a.m.–noon
Join us as we read this Dr. Seuss classic about an enterprising villain who greedily chops down Truffula Trees. Despite the warnings of the Lorax, the trees disappear. But luckily, a single Truffula Tree seed was saved and a caring child becomes our last chance for a clean, green future. Create a craft out of recyclable materials and learn what you can do to help clean up our planet! For all ages (adult accompaniment is required for all children); fee: FREE. Preregistration is encouraged. Maximum number of participants: 40.
 
Hedge-hugs
Wednesday, Feb. 14, 11 a.m.–noon
Horace and Hattie are hedgehogs, and the best of friends. Together, they make daisy chains, splash in puddles, and have tea parties. But there is one thing they can't do―hug! They are too spiky. They try different ways of hugging. But will they find a hug that feels right? Join us for this adorable story about friendship by Steve Wilson and Lucy Tapper. Then create some fun Valentine’s Day crafts to take home! For all ages (adult accompaniment is required for all children); fee: FREE. Preregistration is encouraged. Maximum number of participants: 40.
 
The Little Wood Duck
Friday, March 9, 11 a.m.–noon
The Wood Ducks of North Carolina 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. Little Wood Duck is laughed at by other animals, but he embraces his uniqueness and uses it to save the day! This heartwarming story by Brian Wildsmith teaches the importance of sensitivity and individuality. Learn about Wood Ducks and take a short hike to look at their habitats. Then make a fun duck craft to take home! For all ages (adult accompaniment is required for all children); fee: FREE. Preregistration is encouraged. Maximum number of participants: 40.
Rock Hounds Park Tour
Sunday, Jan. 7, 11 a.m.–noon
On "Old Rock Day," come explore the rocks of Yates Mill, including those found naturally in the park and others that were brought there for mill work purposes. Take a hike to the mill dam to discover its geologic foundation and explore how rocks have been used in milling grains for thousands of years. For all ages; fee: FREE. Registration is required for all family members, and children must have adult accompaniment.
 
Animals in Winter
Sunday, Feb. 25, 2–3 p.m.
Winter days find many animals curled up in their dens. They sleep warmly, awakening in spring ready to enjoy the renewed Earth. Discover how animals prepare for cold weather and which ones hibernate during the winter months. Play some fun games and take a short hike around the pond to look for signs of wintering animals. For all ages; fee: FREE. Registration is required for all family members, and children must have adult accompaniment.
 
Welcome Spring!
Tuesday, 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. For all ages; fee: FREE. Registration is required for all family members, and children must have adult accompaniment.
  

Yates by Night

Signs of Spring
Friday, March 30, 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 all ages (adult accompaniment is required for all children); fee: $1/person. Registration is required. 
 

Recreational Adventures

A Poppin' Good Time!
Friday, Jan. 19, 3–4 p.m.
Celebrate National Popcorn Day at Yates Mill! Learn about different varieties of corn and what gives popcorn that unique POP. Take part in a creative popcorn-themed craft and enjoy some fresh-popped popcorn. For all ages; fee: $1/person. Registration is required for all family members, and children must have adult accompaniment.
 
Weather Wisdom
Friday, Feb. 2, 11 a.m.–noon
The changing weather is probably the most easily observed part of the natural world and is experienced by everyone on a daily basis. Explore the four weather factors, observe the clouds, and learn about extreme weather patterns. Then test your knowledge and forecast the weather! For ages 7 & up; fee: $1/person. Registration is required for all family members, and children must have adult accompaniment.
 
In Search of Leprechauns
Friday, March 16, 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; fee: $1/person. Registration is required for all family members, and children must have adult accompaniment.
 
Country Dancing in the Mill Yard
Saturday, March 17; noon–12:45 p.m. & 4–4:45 p.m.
Put your dancing shoes on! 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.
 
Tree Bark and Buds
Saturday, Jan. 27, 1:30–3 p.m.
The leaves have fallen from the trees, but you can still learn to identify them by recognizing their bark and buds. After reviewing a short presentation on winter tree identification, we will hike out into the woods and practice keying out trees by their winter characteristics. Handouts provided. For ages 14 & up; fee: $6/person. Registration is required.
 
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. Each day offers a different theme. There will be 2 adults with the kids at all times. Kids bring their own lunch and snacks. Preregistration is required. Camp size is limited (maximum of 12 participants), so sign up early!
 
Mill Theater & Art Camp
Monday–Friday, June 25–29, 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
This is a drop-off program for ages 6–12; fee: $180/child

What do you think a ride to the Old Mill felt like, and what might be seen along the way? Make history come to life in this full-bodied transportation exploration. 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! Important: Students enrolled in this camp must attend all five days of camp and be available to perform at the park on the afternoon of Friday, June 25.
 
 
Park Adventures
Monday–Friday, July 23–27, 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
This is a drop-off program for ages 7–14; fee: $170/child

This adventure camp allows participants to gain a sense of accomplishment by attaining goals in a unique historical setting and diverse natural environment. Participants will learn about North Carolina conservation from the mountains to the sea! Daily camp themes include: (1) Becoming Conservationists, (2) North Carolina Piedmont, (3) North Carolina Coastal Plain and Mountains, (4) Improving Habitats, and (5) Natural Discoveries.

Among other activities, Day 1 includes a hike around the park, animal track making and various science activities to show the importance of biodiversity; Day 2 includes a chance for participants to interact with live animals and to take a tour of the old mill; Day 3 will include an estuary workshop, a section on Loggerhead Sea Turtles, rock discovery, canoeing and fishing; Day 4 participants will learn how to develop backyard habitats and will get to take a trip to the Prairie Ridge Eco-Station; and Day 5 will include a trip to the NC Museum of Natural Sciences and a chance to discover the Naturalist Center.