The centerpiece of the 174-acre park is Historic Yates Mill, which is the last operable water-powered gristmill in Wake County (more than 70 water mills once existed in the area). The Mill and the property surrounding it were purchased in 1963 by NC State University. The Mill was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 and was restored to working order through a grassroots community effort by 2005.
The park was developed by, and is managed through, a partnership effort among Wake County Parks, Recreation and Open Space, NC State University, and the non-profit group Yates Mill Associates (YMA). The University owns the property while Wake County operates, maintains and interprets the park including the 20-acre Mill Pond, and YMA operates and maintains the Mill. The park opened to the public in May 2006 and hosts about 100,000 visitors per year.