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 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 30; Award Ceremony April 20 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 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. View details here.
 
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.
  
Nature's April Fools
Sunday–Monday, April 1–2, between 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
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. Explore the ways that nature can be tricky, and learn about ways that wildlife has evolved to increase their chances of survival and success. For all ages; fee: FREE. Registration not required. Head to the park center exhibit hall.
Going Green 
Friday–Sunday, April 20–22; 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. For all ages, FREE. Registration is not required. Head to the park center exhibit hall.
 
Turtle Day
Wednesday, May 23, between 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.

Come celebrate Turtle Day by stopping by the park’s visitor’s center to learn some cool facts about North Carolina’s turtles! Meet our live park ambassador – Frankie the Turtle – and play turtle games, make some crafts, and head out into the park to observe our turtles in nature. For all ages, FREE. Registration is not required. Head to the park center exhibit hall.
 
The Longest Summer Day
Wednesday–Friday, June 20–22, 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. For all ages; fee: FREE. Registration is not required. Head to the park center exhibit hall.
  

Art in the Park 

Welcoming Weather
Saturday–Monday, April 28–30, anytime between 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
April showers bring May flowers! Come celebrate the beginning of spring by joining us in our park’s Finley Center to make some weather crafts. We will have rainbow wind catchers, paper plate suns and raindrop sun catchers. For all ages; fee: FREE. Registration is not required. Children must have adult accompaniment.
 
Summer Blooms at Yates Mill Pond
Saturday–Monday, May 5–7, anytime between 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.

Get inspired by the park's natural beauty 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; fee: FREE. Registration is not required. Children must have adult accompaniment.
 
Incredible Insects
Saturday–Monday, June 23–25, anytime 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 do some fun insect-themed crafts. We will make butterflies, dragonflies, ladybugs and other insect friends! Learn cool bug facts and go on a scavenger hunt to observe insects in nature. For all ages; fee: FREE. Registration is not required. Children must have adult accompaniment.
 

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.

Millers and Millwrights
Saturday, April 21, 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. Explore this tabletop display to discover the similarities and differences of these historic trades, sign an apprentice's contract and use plastic gears to design your own machine!
 
Archaeologists: Uncovering the Mysteries Underneath Our Feet
Saturday, May 19, 1–4 p.m.

Clues about our ancestors are often buried right under our feet. Archaeological excavations unearth hidden artifacts and historic structures that reveal the mysteries of our past. Join us at this tabletop display and learn about the work of archaeologists through fun activities, and participate in a mock dig.
 
The Printer
Saturday, June 16, 1–4 p.m.

Mill owner William Boylan was involved in many enterprises, including journalism. He moved to Fayetteville in 1796 to join his uncle who published newspapers and, in 1799, to Raleigh where he published the Minerva. The productivity of presses increased over time, because of improvements in press construction and the use of steam power. Explore the technological evolution of the printing press and "print" your own card to take home.
 

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.
 
Planting by the Signs
Sunday, April 22, between 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 April, learn about the tradition of planting by the signs, the idea that planting crops according to the moon’s phase and astrological signs ensured a successful crop. Then make your own phases-of-the-moon flip book to take home!
 
Tending the Crop
Sunday, May 20, between 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 May, learn how farmers weeded and harrowed the fields to get rid of unwanted plants that would harm their crops, then make a dandelion craft to take home.
 
Soap Making and Butter Churning
Sunday, June 17, between 1–4 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 June, learn about common household chores that were important to daily life, such as making soap and churning butter, then try your hand at making butter in a jar!
 

A Side of History

High Flying Kites
Tuesday, April 17, 10:30 a.m.–noon
April 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 open field. For ages 5 & up; fee: $2/person. Registration is required for all family members, and children must have adult accompaniment.
 
Flag Day Fun
Thursday, June 14, 4–5 p.m.
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 & up; fee: $1/person. Registration is required for all family members, and children must have adult accompaniment.
   

A-Maize-ing Grains
Wednesday, April 4, 10–11 a.m.
Put on your "Grain Brain" and investigate the grains in your favorite foods. Use a mortar and pestle to get inside and find out what makes whole grains so healthy to eat. Try your hand at shelling corn, and sprout a living necklace to wear home! For ages 7–14; 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.
 
Peek into the Pond
Thursday, May 17, 10:30 a.m.–noon
Many animals and insects live in and by a pond. Take a short walk to learn about Yates Mill Pond's watershed, then dip into the pond to explore the diversity of life that exists there. Examine pond organisms and use a microscope for an even closer view. Gain an understanding of what it takes to survive in the water, and explore how aquatic life helps us to understand water quality and environmental health. Registration is required. For ages 7–14; fee: $6/child. Registration is required. This is a drop-off program, but adults are welcome to stay.
 
Geology Rocks!
Monday, June 4, 10:30 a.m.–noon
Sedimentary, metamorphic and igneous rocks are everywhere! Come explore the rocks of Yates Mill through hands-on science. Test the physical and chemical components to discover the identity of rocks then play the rock cycle game. Learn how rocks have been used in milling grains, and try out a few hand mills before taking a hike to the mill dam to discover its geologic foundation. For ages 7–14; fee: $6/child. Registration is required. This is a drop-off program, but adults are welcome to stay.
 

Park Tales

For all ages (adult accompaniment is required for all children); fee: FREE.
Registration is require for all participants - adults and children. Maximum number of participants: 40.
 
Otters Love to Play
Friday, April 13, 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 river otters, and make a cute paper bag otter puppet craft to take home!
 
Mother's Day Mice
Thursday, May 10, 11 a.m.–noon
Join Biggest Mouse, Middle Mouse and Little Mouse as they venture out into the woods to gather gifts for their mom, in this endearing story by Eve Bunting. Find out what gifts they collect and create, then make your own crafts and cards in honor of Mother’s Day!
 
Squirrels Leap, Squirrels Sleep
Friday, June 8, 11 a.m.–noon

If you followed a squirrel for a day, what would you see? Climbing branches, storing seeds, making homes in tree holes, and maybe even flying! Visit us at the park for “Squirrels Leap, Squirrels Sleep,” by April Pulley Sayre, for an adorable story that takes you into the fascinating world of squirrels. Learn some fun squirrelly facts and make a fun squirrel craft to take home.
Sweet April Showers Do Spring May Flowers
Sunday, April 15, 3:30–4:30 p.m.
Learn about the meaning and 16th-century origins of this saying, then explore how water travels through different environments. Take a walk to view how the park grounds were designed to protect the pond's water quality and explore best management practices that can help you manage your land and prevent pollution. For all ages; fee: FREE. Registration is required for all family members and children must have adult accompaniment.
 
Spring Flower Walk
Monday, May 7, 11 a.m.–noon

Celebrate May Day in nature! Stroll along the trails around Yates Mill Pond while searching for the many marvelous wildflowers that are in bloom. 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. Registration is required for all family members and children must have adult accompaniment.
 
A Midsummer Day Dream
Thursday, June 21, 4–5 p.m.

What do Historic Yates Mill County Park and the woodland faeries have in common? They both love nature! Take a short walk near the millpond to search for evidence of faeries (sightings are not guaranteed), explore the astronomical aspects of Midsummer's Day, and hear a few quotes from William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream." 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.
The Mysterious Lives of Lightning Bugs
Friday, June 1, 7:30–8:30 p.m.
Learn about the life cycle of the firefly and discover what makes a firefly glow, as well as what species are found in the Raleigh area and how to identify fireflies 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 & up (adult accompaniment required for all children); fee: $1/person. Registration required.

Recreational Adventures

Country Dancing in the Mill Yard
Saturdays, April 21, May 19, and June 16; 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.
 
Mill Stories in Motion
Monday, April 9, 11 a.m.–noon

What do you think a ride to the Old Mill felt like? Was it fast or slow? Long or short? Bumpy or smooth? And what were people traveling in? Make history come to life in this full-bodied transportation exploration. Note that this program does not include a tour inside the historic mill. For all ages; fee: $1/person. Registration is required for all family members, and children must have adult accompaniment.
 
Paddle the Pond
Saturdays, April 28, May 26 and June 23, 3–4 p.m.
Learn basic canoeing skills and a bit about the millpond's history, 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), fee: $10/boat. Each canoe can hold 1–4 people (800-pound total weight limit). Registration required. All participants must sign a program waiver.
 
Messing About with Boats
Saturday, May 26, 10:30 a.m.–noon
Ratty, Badger and Mr. Toad love spending leisurely summer days going boating. Folks coming to Yates Mill did, too! One never knows what sorts of adventures a simple day on the water can bring. Hear some of "The Wind in the Willows" story while making your own crafty model boat, then test it out on the actual pond! We'll pose for pictures with our "Mill Pond Regatta." For ages 6 & up; fee: $2/person. Registration is required for all family members, and children must have adult accompaniment.

National Go Fishing Day Fun
Monday, June 18, 11 a.m.–noon
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 & up (adult accompaniment required for all children); fee: $1/person. Registration required.
 
Stay tuned for new offerings.
 
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 – there is one space left!
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 – sorry, this camp is full
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.
 
Summer Camps at Yates Mill by Other Organizations:
 
Camp Wind Eagle: June 18–22 and June 25–29, 2018
 
June 18–22 and July 9–13, 2018