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:
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Ready to sign up? Register online for public programs.
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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 District Park.
Check out the Crowder programs page for details.
Want to see Wake County's last remaining water-powered gristmill in action?
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. 
11th Annual Mill as Muse Community Art & Photography Contests
Wednesday, Feb. 1, before 5 p.m.
Share your artistic creations by entering the 11th annual community art and photography contests. Contest rules will be posted in January 2017. The contests include youth and adult categories with mill, nature and people in the park subjects. Contest Entries due: Wednesday, Feb. 1, before 5 pm. Entry forms: Art Contest Entry Form and Rules 2017.pdfArt Contest and Photography Contest Entry Form and Rules 2017.pdfPhoto Contest.
11th Annual Mill as Muse Award Ceremony & Reception
Friday, Feb. 10, 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 11th 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.
Scouting Outing: Outdoor Survival Challenge
Sunday, Feb. 26, 2–3 p.m.
Think fast! You are stranded in the woods with darkness falling and there is no help in sight. Can you get to safety before the elements or wild animals get to you? Explore the outdoor survival skills that everyone should master, learn how to build a survival shelter, and test your mettle in a game of outdoor survival. For ages 6 & up; fee: $25/troop (Maximum: 3 troops). Registration is required, and each troop must have adult accompaniment.
NC State University’s Farm Animal Days
Wednesday–Friday, March 29–31, 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).  www.cals.ncsu.edu/farmanimaldays/

The Great Backyard Bird Count

Breakfast with the Birds
Saturday, Feb. 18, 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. 19, 1:30–2:30 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; FREE. Preregistration is not required.
Wizened Woodchucks & Weather Predictors
Thursday, 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. For all ages; fee: FREE. Registration not required.
National Birds
Monday, Feb. 20, 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 not required.
The Vernal Equinox
Monday, March 20, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
The Vernal Equinox signals the beginning of Spring. It is the point where there is 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. For all ages; fee: FREE. Registration not required.

Art in the Park

The Mill as Muse Creative Art Session
Sunday, Jan. 29, 2–4 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 (entries are due Feb. 1). 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. For all ages; fee: $1/person. Registration is required for all participants, and children must have adult accompaniment.

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.

Historic Trades: Millwrights, Millers & their Apprentices
Saturday, March 18, 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. Mill around with us as we explore the similarities and differences of these historic trades. We also encourage you to take a corn grinding tour in the old mill! For all ages; fee: FREE. Registration is not required.

A Side of History 

The Legends of Saint Valentine
Tuesday, Feb. 14, 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 from where did these traditions come? 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.
Hog Wild in Carolina
Wednesday, March 1, 11 a.m.–noon
The Spanish explorer DeSoto introduced hogs to Florida and Alabama about 1540 and in 1607 the Jamestown settlers brought some with them, as well. The creatures thrived in the warm Southern woodlands. By the mid-19th century, hogs had been domesticated, and pork had become the principal meat of the South. Explore the history of pigs in our state and cast your vote for what you think is the best kind of pork barbecue. For all ages; fee: $1/person. Registration is required for all family members, and children must have adult accompaniment.

Field School (previously called Homeschool Days)

Birds of a Feather
Monday, Feb. 13, 10 a.m.–noon
Birds come in many shapes, sizes and colors, and have many neat behaviors. Explore the birds found around the millpond and their diverse habitats through several fun activities. Discover how to effectively use binoculars to spot birds in the landscape and to identify them by their seasonal calls. For ages 7–14; fee: $8/child. Registration is required. This is a drop-off program, but adults are welcome to stay.
Simple Machines & Power Trains
Monday, March 6, 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 6–14; fee: $4/child. Registration is required. This is a drop-off program, but adults are welcome to stay. Note that a History Detective Mill Tour is offered from 11 a.m. to noon – we encourage you to sign up for that, as well, for the ultimate program experience.

Park Tales

A Mitten for a Home
Friday, Jan. 13, 4–5 p.m.
Join us to read Jan Brett’s classic 'The Mitten,' a whimsical story about a young boy, his white mittens, and the woodland creatures he encounters. Learn some knitting history and make your own paper snowflake mittens. For all ages; fee: FREE. Registration is not required. Children must have adult accompaniment.
The Six Swans
Friday, Feb. 17, 4–5 p.m.
The Six Swans is a German fairy tale that was collected by the Brothers Grimm. In the story, to save her brothers, a princess may not speak until a curse is broken. She has many things happen to her that she does not want, because she is unable to speak to tell anyone. Find out how she manages to save herself and her brothers just in the nick of time. For all ages; fee: FREE. Registration is not required. Children must have adult accompaniment.
Farmer Boys & Pioneer Girls
Tuesday, March 21, 4–5 p.m.
Life on a farm was never dull – just ask Laura and Almanzo. On "National Agriculture Day," try your hand at back-to-basics living, just like the Ingalls and Wilder families. Do your chores, practice your lessons and your handiwork, and make sure to brush up on your best manners. For all ages; fee: FREE. Registration is not required. Children must have adult accompaniment.
Rock Hounds Park Tour
Saturday, Jan. 7, 11 a.m.–noon
Rescheduled for Saturday, Feb. 4, 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.
Adult Workshop: Tree Bark and Buds
Saturday, Jan. 28, 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.
Snowflakes and Ice Crystals
Saturday, Feb. 25, 2–3 p.m.
Come join park staff as we search the park for snowflakes and ice crystals. Explore the unique shapes of snowflakes and view ice crystals under microscopes, then construct your own paper snowflake or ice crystal to take home. Hot chocolate will be served. For all ages; fee: FREE. Registration is required for all family members, and children must have adult accompaniment.
Welcome Spring!
Saturday, March 4, 11 a.m.–noon
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 Spring 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
Saturday, March 25, 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 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 required.

Recreational Adventures

A Poppin' Good Time!
Thursday, 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
Thursday, Feb. 2, 3– 4 p.m.
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 17, 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 18, 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 don’t 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.
Monday–Friday, July 17–21, 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
This is a drop-off program for ages 7–14; fee: $170/child
Join us for an adventure camp filled with natural and historical experiences! In addition to park exploration, camp will include local field trips and expert guest speakers. Daily camp themes include (1) Radical Recyclers, (2) Soil Scientists, (3) History Detectives, (4) Field Ecologists and (5) Water Wizards.
Among other activities, Day 1 includes sustainability investigations and upcycled art projects; Day 2 includes a geology lab and fossil find; Day 3 includes a mill tour and archaeological adventures; Day 4 includes a hike in the park and owl pellet dissection; and Day 5 includes canoeing, cane pole fishing and water balloon games. Camp size is limited to 12 participants.
Monday–Friday, July 31–August 4, 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Friday, August 4, 6–8 p.m.
Important: Students enrolled in this camp must attend all five days of camp and be available to perform the camp play at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences on the evening of Friday, August 4.
This is a drop-off program for ages 7–14; fee: $180/child
Explore the deep time story of our continent, from its beginning up to now, through Thomas Berry's play entitled "North America, Our Home" (view details here). Explore regional geography and maps, while learning about the events that helped to shape the Earth and affected the plants and animals living on it. Also explore animal adaptations and our own place in the magnificent flow of time and creation. Note that this play includes a focus on evolution and the geologic time scale.
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 a theater production. Camp size is limited to 12 participants.

Camps by Others that are Based at the Park

June 19–23, July 10–14 and July 24–28
June 26–30 and July 17–21
June 26–30 and July 10–14