Historic Yates Mill County Park offers a variety of site-based, experiential programming for all generations.

For a printout of upcoming programs and events, please refer to the Yates Mill quarterly program newsletters below.

The January–March 2015 Program Bulletin is coming soon! Meanwhile, the programs for the first quarter of the new year are listed below.

To register, complete and sign the Park Program Registration Form and return it with payment (made out to Wake County Parks) by mail or bring by the park office located at the address listed below. Payment and registration form must be received to confirm your spot in our programs.

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

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

Please note that all payments must be made using cash, check or money order – park staff do not have the ability to take credit cards.

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.


Special Events

Take a Photo with Santa at the Old MillVictorian santa
Saturday, December 13,
10 a.m.–noon AND 1–3 p.m.

Santa sure is a busy guy around the winter holidays season, but fortunately he's made time for us. To help us raise funds to support Historic Yates Mill, he'll be dressed up Victorian style inside the mill building between the hours of 10 a.m.–noon and 1–3 p.m. Have your picture taken with Santa (fee: $15–$65, depending on the photo size) – he'll be "receiving callers" on a first-come, first-served basis. While you wait, play some "reindeer games" in the mill yard and try out a variety of old-time toys. Also, enjoy some free, seasonal refreshments.

Wake Audubon Society's Winter Bird Count
Saturday, December 20, 8–10:30 a.m.
Join Naturalist John Connors and members of the Audubon Society for the winter bird count at Yates Mill Pond. Many reoccurring and some rare winter migrants have been counted. Participants are encouraged to bring binoculars and field guides. Preregistration is required – please email: jconnorsbird@gmail.com. Come prepared for winter weather, including proper footwear.

paper snowflakesArt in the Park: Make-a-Flake
Saturday, December 27, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
Who hasn't enjoyed the simple pleasures of cutting paper into snowflakes on a cold winter day? Come to the park center anytime between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. to make some paper snowflakes of your own, or make some to help decorate our park center windows. Also, explore how snowflakes form and what can affect their structure. For all ages; fee: FREE! Preregistration is not required.

9th Annual "Mill as Muse" Community Art & Photography Contests
Deadline for entries: Sunday, February 1, before 5 p.m.
Get your paintbrushes and cameras ready and try to capture the best images of Yates Mill and the surrounding park, then plan to enter the park art and/or photography contests. Youth and adult categories include the old mill, nature and people in the park. Winners' entries will be displayed in the park center's exhibit hall.
Art Contest Entry Form and Rules 2015 AND
Photo Contest Entry Form and Rules 2015

Art in the Park: "Mill as Muse" Creative Art Session
Sunday, February 1, 2015, 1–3 p.m.
Explore your artistic side by joining a creative art class and craft a work of art to take home or to enter into the “Mill as Muse” kids’ art contest. A variety of inspirational arts and crafts materials will be provided, and a brief slide show will be shown featuring other artistic creations related to Yates Mill. southeast view of millFor ages 6-14; fee: $4/child, with accompanying adult for younger children. Preregistration is required.

9th Annual "Mill as Muse" Award Ceremony and Reception
Sunday, February 15, 2015, 2–4 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 9th 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. Preregistration is not required.

Yates by Night: Night Tales
Thursday, February 26, 2015, 7–8 p.m.
Gather round a brazier fire on the back deck of the park center on "Tell A Fairy Tale Day" 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; fee: $5/family or $3/person. Preregistration is required.

Note that the historic mill building opens for the 2015 tour season on March 1, and the first corn grinding demonstrations will take place March 21–22.

Historic Trades: Millwrights, Millers and their Apprentices
Saturday, March 21, 2015, 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, bearings, gears and mechanical belts. Most millers and millwrights were educated through apprenticeship programs, where they received a combination of classroom education and a good deal of on-the-job training. Mill around with us as we explore the similarities and differences between these historic trades. For all ages; fee: FREE. Preregistration is not required.

Big Sweep volunteersVolunteer Interest Session
Sunday, March 22, 2015, 1:30–3:30 p.m.
Want to do more to help out your community park? Consider volunteering at Yates Mill! You could lead mill tours, assist with park programs, help enhance our gardens, fight back invasive plants, maintain our trails and more! Join us to learn about the exciting ways you can lend a hand. Preregistration is not required. Call our volunteer coordinator at 919-856-6675 for details.

Seasonal Programs

A Side of History: Twelfth Night Traditions
Sunday, January 4, 2015, 3–4 p.m.
The darkest days of winter have passed and it’s time to celebrate! Come eat, drink, dance and be merry at Yates Mill’s Twelfth Night Celebration. Participate in traditional crafts and festivities and taste a Twelfth Night cake. For all ages (most appropriate for ages 6 & up); fee: $5/family or $3/person. Preregistration is required.

A Poppin' Good Time!

Monday, January 19, 2015, 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 (most appropriate for ages 7 & up); fee: $5/family or $3/person. Preregistration is required.

Wizened Woodchucks and Weather Predictors

Monday, February 2, 2015, anytime between 1–4 p.m.
How did people predict the weather before The Weather Channel? Can animals really help? Come to the visitor center to check out some at-home weather equipment you can make with recycled and natural materials, and put our colonial "weather proverbs" to the test. For all ages; fee: FREE. Preregistration is not required.

making a leprechaun trapIn Search of Leprechauns
Tuesday, March 17, 2015, 3–4 p.m.
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! This popular program fills up fast, so be sure to register early! For ages 6-12; fee: $4/child. Preregistration is required.

The Great Backyard Bird Count

The Great Backyard Bird Count is an annual, four-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of bird populations. Participants are asked to count birds for as little as 15 minutes (or as long as they wish) on one or more days of the event and report their sightings online at www.birdcount.org. Anyone can take part in the count, from beginning bird watchers to experts, from anywhere in the world!
GBBC logo
Love Birds
Saturday, February 14, 2015, 2–3:30 p.m.
Experience the abundance of bird life that's found in the park by watching a colorful slideshow before heading outdoors to see who's flapping about. Binoculars may be borrowed to get the best "bird's eye view". We'll explore how birds begin courtship displays to attract mates and ward off rivals, and also what they do to set up house. Then see if you can attract a feathered friend by learning a bird mating dance. For all ages; fee: FREE. Preregistration is required.

Breakfast with the Birds Hike

Monday, February 16, 2015, 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. Preregistration is required.

Little Sprouts

For ages 3–5 with accompanying adult; fee: $4/child or $10 for three Little Sprouts programs. Preregistration is required.

Pine tree drawing
Let's Look for Evergreens

Friday, December 19, 10–11 a.m.
Celebrate the winter season by coming out to the park on "Look for an Evergreen Day"! Many types of Christmas trees grow in the wild, such as firs, spruces and pines, and the scent of fresh pine sure captures the feel of the holidays! Celebrate this unique holiday by learning about evergreens and making a fun pine needle craft, then bundle up to go outside to find where they grow in the park. For ages 3–5; fee: $4/child. Preregistration is required.


Little Historians

For ages 5–7; fee: $4/child or $10 for three Little Historian programs. Preregistration is required.

Totally Toys
Tuesday, December 2, 11 a.m.–noon
Children have been playing with toys and using them to learn important skills for thousands of years. Join us to read a story, explore the kinds of toys children play with around the world, and make a few historic toys to take home. Bring your favorite toy to share with the group.

New Year Celebrations

Friday, January 2, 2015, 10–11 a.m.
Happy New Year! In America we celebrate the new year on January 1, but did you know that in China they celebrate the new year in February? Learn about new year's traditions around the world and make a Chinese New Year's lantern to take home.

Great SealNational Birds
Monday, February 16, 2015, 11 a.m.–noon
Did you know that Turkey and Eagle once faced off to see who would be our national bird? Celebrate Presidents Day and the Great Backyard Bird Count in one fell swoop! Discover the natural characteristics that made each such a contender, learn about the use of birds in national symbols and make your own bird-themed Great Seal to take home.

Going to Market

Wednesday, March 25, 2015, 10–11 a.m.
In North Carolina we can purchase all sorts of fresh vegetables, fruits, meats and prepared foods at the State Farmers Market as well as from roadside stands. Join us for a whirlwind tour of the world’s markets and marvel at the range of goods that are available for sale in Morocco, Ecuador, Uganda, New York City and right here in Raleigh. Play a fun game and take home your own veggie printed place mat.

Be sure to check out the Nature Watchers (for ages 3–5) and Nature Friends (for ages 6–9) Program Series that are being offered at Crowder District Park.

Homeschool Days Project Linus group

The Spirit of Giving
Monday, December 15, 10:30 a.m.–noon
Get into the spirit of giving by helping to cut out and assemble warm fleece blankets for children in need. No sewing skills are required! All blankets made during this program will be donated to the Project Linus nonprofit group. By helping out, you'll become a "blanketeer"! For ages 7 & up; fee: FREE! Preregistration is required.

Animal Tracks and Signs
Monday, January 12, 2015, 10 a.m.–noon
Tracks can tell us so much about an animal's behavior. Learn to read the land - who has been here, where they were going and how fast! Observe nature around us on a habitat hike and search for tracks, scat, food remains, animal-built structures and other wildlife signs. Then make and take home a cast animal track. For ages 7-12; fee: $8/child. Preregistration is required. 

Wetlands and Watersheds

Monday, February 9, 2015, 1–3 p.m.
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 while on a short hike, and discover how your own actions can affect the health of the environment. For ages 7-12; fee: $8/child. Preregistration is required.

Crown Gear 5-7-03.jpg
Simple Machines and Waterwheels
Monday, March 9, 2015, 10 a.m.–noon
The historical roots of water-powered mills span cultures, civilizations and millennia. Test your mettle on mill-related vocabulary and your knowledge of simple machines and waterwheels. Then take a tour of our historic water mill. For ages 7-12; fee: $8/child (includes a $4 mill tour). Preregistration is required.

Natural Explorations

frosted winterberriesSeniors Only Nature Walk
Tuesday, December 9, 10–11 a.m.
Walking helps you stay strong and fit! Join us for a short nature walk (3/4-mile) just for seniors. Learn to identify native plants and wildlife and visit the park's two boardwalks for some nature viewing. Binoculars will be provided, or you can bring your own. Make sure to bring water and wear sturdy hiking shoes! For ages 55 and older; fee: FREE! Preregistration is required.

Winter Wildlife Survival Skills
Saturday, December 6, 11 a.m.–noon
Winter is coming. Learn about seasonal changes in nature and explore how various kinds of wildlife prepare for the cold, as well as what you can do to enhance your own winter survival skills. For ages 6 & up; fee: FREE! Preregistration is required.

Winter Wonders
Saturday, January 17, 2015, 11 a.m.–noon
Ever wonder how plants and animals survive the winter months? Take a short hike to discover where some of the millpond’s wildlife takes cover when it’s cold outdoors. Come prepared for winter weather, including proper footwear. For all ages; fee: FREE! Preregistration is encouraged.

Seniors Stay Fit Nature Hike
Tuesday, January 27, 2015, 2–3 p.m.
Thursday, February 19, 2015, 3–4 p.m.
Monday, March 30, 2015, 9–10 a.m.
Join us as we enjoy the fresh air, sunshine and the beautiful park. This short nature walk is being offered every month, so make it a healthy habit to come out and view the changing seasons. Make sure to bring water and wear sturdy hiking shoes! For ages 55 and older; fee: FREE! Preregistration is encouraged.

maple tree budsBark and Buds

Sunday, February 22, 2015, 2–3 p.m.
The leaves have fallen from the trees, but you can still learn to identify them by recognizing their bark and buds. We'll hike out into the woods and practice keying out trees by their winter characteristics. For ages 7 & up; fee: FREE. Preregistration is required.

Going Green Hike
Friday, March 20, 2015, 9–10 a.m.
Celebrate the coming of spring by taking a naturalist-guided hike around the verdant (green!) millpond and go on a treasure hunt for “gold coins” that contain earth-friendly helpful hints. For all ages, FREE. Preregistration is not required.

Track Out Days

The Long Winter
Tuesday–Thursday, December 9–11, 1–4 p.m.
Track out at Yates Mill! Join us for one, two or all three days of the Long Winter! Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family really had to tough it out. winter lodgeLearn what the family did to survive one especially long winter and find out how the family celebrated Christmas and bring home several homemade holiday crafts. Learn all about how animals and people find food, build a shelter and survive winter. If you want to, come dressed in your best pioneer outfit!

Children in Grades K–5 will participate in curriculum-correlated activities, both together and by grade level. This program is great for year-round students on Track 1 and for homeschool students who want to learn science in a hands-on setting. Fee: $12/day (or $30 for all 3 days). Preregistration is required.