Historic Yates Mill County Park, at 6420 Lake Wheeler Road in Raleigh, is a 174-acre wildlife refuge and an environmental research center. The centerpiece is the Historic Yates Mill, which is the last operable water-powered gristmill in Wake County. The mill is on the National Register of Historic Places and was restored to working order in 2005.
Admission to the park is free. Tours of the mill are available at various times and cost $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, $3 for children, and are free for kids under age 6.
The park hosts many events throughout the year. Some are free and some have a small fee. Many are for kids, but there are some programs that will appeal to adults as well. To see them all, visit the website.
Here are some of the upcoming free or very cheap events. It’s not a complete list. Some require pre-registration. To see the whole list, and to pre-register, go to the Historic Yates Mill County Park website, find the event, and you’ll see the link to pre-register.
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.
Field School for Kids
Registration is required. Only attending children need to be registered. Accompanying adults are welcome to stay or to drop off these participating children. Other siblings may not attend.
Nature’s April Fools and Animal Adaptations
Wednesday, April 1st
10:30 a.m. to noon
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. Join this guided hike to see if they can fool you and explore the crazy ways that animals have adapted to their surroundings! For ages 7–14; FREE.
Simple Machines and Power Trains
Thursday, May 28th
10 a.m. to 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 7–14; FREE. Note that a History Detective Mill Tour is offered from 11 a.m. to noon – we encourage you to sign up for it for the ultimate program experience.
Wetlands and Watersheds
Monday, June 8th
10:30 a.m. to noon
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 by taking a short hike and discover how your own actions can affect the health of the environment. For ages 8–14; FREE.
The Wood Ducks 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. This story by Brian Wildsmith teaches the importance of sensitivity and individuality. Learn about Wood Ducks and make a fun duck craft! Then take a short hike to look at their habitats. For all ages; FREE. Registration is required for all family members, and children must have adult accompaniment.
Otters Love to Play
Friday, April 17th
11 a.m. to 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 otters, and make a cute otter craft to take home!
The Bugliest Bug
Wednesday, May 20th
11 a.m. to noon
Join a naturalist on World Bee Day for the reading of “The Bugliest Bug,” a children’s book about the variety of bugs in our world. Then head outdoors to look down on the ground for bugs that dwell in the leaf litter and up in the sky to see who else we might meet. This program will cover safe practices when observing insects and strategies for observation of small things.
Mouse and Lion
Tuesday, June 16th
11 a.m. to noon
Mouse and Lion, Aesop’s fabled duo, renew their ancient bond in this warm retelling by Rand Burkert and Ekholm Burkert’s illustrations. A lion threatens a mouse that wakes him and the mouse begs forgiveness. The lion agrees and sets the mouse free. Later when the lion is in trouble, the mouse helps it out, remembering the mercy it had received. Join us to listen to this iconic and ancient story, learn the history of Aesop’s fables, and take home a neat craft!
Yates by Night
Signs of Spring
Saturday, March 28th
7 p.m. to 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’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 ages 6 and up (adult accompaniment is required for all children); FREE. Registration is required.