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!
Scroll down or select a program series below to learn more about our offerings:
Search for programs by location, age, date and more!
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 email@example.com
Our staff also offers public programs at Crowder District Park.
Park Anniversary Events
The 10th Anniversary Remembering WallSaturday, May 21, and Sunday, May 22, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
Let's celebrate the restoration of the old mill and the rebirth of the millpond as a community park! Head to the park center exhibit hall to participate in a community art project that showcases the park's first 10 years. You are invited to bring a photo, artwork or other object to place on or below the wall that shows what the park means to you, or you can simply add a few words. For all ages; fee: FREE. Preregistration is not required.
The above photo shows the park's ribbon cutting ceremony which took place when the park first opened to the public on May 20, 2006. Mary Lea Simpkins, the daughter of Yates Mill's last working miller, is shown cutting the ribbon and behind her is the founding Park Manager, Rebeccah Cope.
Park Tales & Popcorn
Saturday, May 21, noon–1 p.m.
Historic Yates Mill County Park opened its gates to the public on May 20, 2006, after 10 years of park development and about 20 years after the major mill restoration effort with Yates Mill Associates had begun. One month later, a flood nearly washed away the mill's waterwheel and halted operations for a while. In honor of the park's 10th anniversary, head to the park center porch to hear stories about the park's wild beginnings and enjoy some free popcorn. For all ages; fee: FREE. Preregistration is not required.
The Ross L. Andrews Nature Poetry Contest
Entries due March 31; Award Ceremony April 22 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 his recent death, 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. View details here
NC State University’s Farm Animal Days
Wednesday–Friday, April 13–15, 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 details here.
Friday, April 22, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
Celebrate "Earth Day" early this year while learning fun facts and tips on recycling and how you can reduce waste! Take the Earth Day pledge and make an Earth Bracelet to take home. Then go on a treasure hunt hike around the millpond for "gold coins" that contain earth-friendly helpful hints. For all ages, FREE. Preregistration is not required. Head to the park center exhibit hall.
Friday, April 29, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
A great variety of trees grow in the forests that surround Yates Mill Pond. On "Arbor Day," come to the park to learn about the important roles trees play in our environment and the kinds of wildlife that benefit from the trees' presence. Pick up a tree trail brochure then head out onto the park trails to discover where different kinds of trees are found within the park. For all ages; fee: FREE. Preregistration is not required. Head to the park center exhibit hall.
Wednesday, May 4, 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 that's found in the park by watching a colorful slideshow in our park center auditorium and 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. Preregistration is not required. Head to the park center exhibit hall.
Eggstraordinary Egg Layers
Friday, June 3, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
A variety of animals including birds, lizards, turtles, snakes, fish, insects, spiders and even some mammals hatch from eggs, which come in a variety of shapes, colors and sizes and are sometimes laid in surprising places. On "National Egg Day," explore the variety of eggs that exist in nature and help build an artistic "nest". For all ages; fee: FREE. Preregistration is not required. Head to the park center exhibit hall.
Art in the Park: Colorful Corncob Crafts
Saturday, June 11, 1–4 p.m.
On "National Corn on the Cob Day," have fun while you cobble together an Indian corn craft. Use colorful dried corn kernels to create a mosaic work of art to take home. Learn corncob facts, share corny jokes and listen to the "Legend of the Five Corn Kernels." For all ages; fee: FREE. Preregistration is not required.
Free historic trade wayside displays & demonstrations 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.
Planters, Gardeners & Cooks
Saturday, April 16, 1–4 p.m.
Plantations were the large farms that were the economic basis of many of the 17th-century American colonies. Yates Mill's founder, Samuel Pearson, was a planter who owned over 1,500 acres of land. Explore the role of the planter and how southern foods have traditionally been prepared for the table. Find your favorites on our food family tree, learn an African-American field song, and participate in a seed exchange to start your own southern garden. For all ages; fee: FREE. Preregistration is not required.
Dam Builders & Stone Masons
Saturday, May 21, 1–4 p.m.
Dams store water and raise the water level upstream so that water can be diverted into a canal or to increase "hydraulic head" – the difference in height between a reservoir's surface and the water downstream. This allows dams to use "hydropower" to get work done, such as running a mill to grind grains. Explore how Yates Mill's stone dam was constructed and the types of tools that have been used by stone masons to build such impressive and solid structures. For all ages; fee: FREE. Preregistration is not required.
Saturday, June 18, 1–4 p.m.
Clues about our ancestors are often buried right under our feet. Archaeological excavations, including those conducted at Yates Mill Pond in years past, unearth hidden artifacts and historic structures that reveal the mysteries of our past. Learn about the work of archaeologists through fun activities and participate in a mock dig. For all ages; fee: FREE! Preregistration is not required.
Friday, May 27, 3:30–5 p.m.
May is "National Kite Month," and kite making 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 park’s open field. For ages 5 and up (adult accompaniment is required for ages 5–6); fee: $6/person. Preregistration is required.
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 and up (adult accompaniment is required for ages 5–6); fee: $6/person. Preregistration is required.
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 & up; fee: $4/child. This is a drop-off program, but adults are welcome to stay – however, seating is limited. Preregistration is required. Bundle this program with the Kids' History Detective Mill Tour from 11 a.m. to noon for the ultimate learning experience.
Take a habitat hike around Yates Mill to observe and learn about the natural communities and diverse plants and wildlife that are found here. Then let’s get wet! Use dip nets, hand lenses and microscopes to survey the millpond’s "macro-invertebrates." Learn the important roles these little critters play in our pond’s busy ecosystem and what they can tell us about water quality. For ages 7 & up; fee: $8/child. This is a drop-off program, but adults are welcome to stay – however, seating is limited. Preregistration is required.
Will you help the Little Red Hen bake bread? On National Egg Day, follow the Hen through her story using animal puppets and masks then make a fun chicken craft to take home. Gather ingredients for an imaginary loaf of bread and head the old mill to fetch cornmeal from the miller. For ages 3–6, with an accompanying adult; fee: $6/child. Preregistration is required.
Wednesday, May 4, 3–4:30 p.m.
Join us as we enjoy the fresh air, sunshine and the beautiful park and help to inventory the park's seasonal wildlife. This nature walk is being offered once per quarter of the year, so make it a healthy habit to come out and view the changing seasons. Make sure to bring water and wear walking shoes! For ages 18 and older; fee: FREE! Preregistration is required.
Celebrate Mother's Day in nature! Stroll along the trails around Yates Mill Pond while searching for the many marvelous wildflowers that are in bloom, and listen to a few flowery poems along the way. Explore how flowers function and the types of flowering plants that grow locally, and hear the latest buzz on local pollinators. For all ages; fee: FREE.
Spend some quality time enjoying the great outdoors with your family while getting some fresh air and exercise. Develop your child’s interest in nature and explore some of the tools that can be used to investigate nature. Preregistration is required. For all ages; fee: FREE. Preregistration is required.
Go on a night hike with a park naturalist to test your sensory skills after dark. The frogs will be singing, the air will be crisp and the land will be alive with night sounds. We’ll hike past the pond's edge and through forests, wetlands and fields to discover what happens in these habitats at night. Come prepared for a fun and engaging spring nighttime adventure! For all ages (kids must be with an accompanying adult); fee: $3/person or $5/family. Preregistration is required.
On “Astronomy Day,” learn how to identify planets, stars, constellations and more! Enjoy a presentation in the park center auditorium then head outdoors to view the night sky through our telescope (weather dependent). Hear stories about the stars and check out a variety of sky maps. For all ages (kids must be with an accompanying adult); fee: $3/person or $5/family. Preregistration is required.
Celebrate the arrival of long summer nights by heading out to the park program after dark. Gather round a brazier fire on the back deck of the park center to hear some tall tales and local legends, then share a few stories of your own while roasting s'mores in the great outdoors. For ages 6 & up (kids must be with an accompanying adult); fee: $3/person or $5/family. Preregistration is required.
Come out to Yates Mill Pond for a canoe float. After basic instruction, explore the pond’s many features as seen only from the water. Canoes, paddles and life jackets will be provided. This program is subject to suitable weather conditions. For ages 6+ (with an accompanying adult), fee: $10 per boat. The canoes fit 3 people per boat or 4 per boat w/2 adults & 2 young kids). Preregistration is required. Space is limited so register early!
Come out to the millpond on "National Go Fishing Day" 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, with an accompanying adult; fee: $3/person. Preregistration is required.
July 8, 6–8 p.m.
In the spirit of Independence Day, make history come to life in this full-bodied exploration of the founding and establishment of the 13 original American Colonies and the struggles that were faced by the early colonists, including Yates Mill’s founder Samuel Pearson and his family.
Participate as actors, musicians and stage hands 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!
Ages 6–12, $108/child for 3 full days of camp, plus Friday evening
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) Explorers & Mapping, (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, orienteering exercises and a canoe float; Day 2 includes a planting activity and visits to a local organic farm and the State Farmers Market; Day 3 includes a mill tour and an inventors workshop with simple machines; Day 4 includes a group mystery to solve and a road trip to the NC Museum of History; and Day 5 includes wildlife studies and sketching, pond dipping with nets and cane pole fishing.
Ages 7–14, $184/child for 5 full days of camp