Uncommon Camping with Harvest Hosts. If you have heard of Harvest Hosts and wondered, should I join? Read on….
Harvest Hosts is a membership-based network offering RV owners the opportunity to camp overnight at more than 1,500 wineries, breweries, farms, museums, and other attractions across the US, Canada, and Baja California. There is also an option to upgrade your membership to include 365+ golf courses. I joined last Spring and have had a wonderful and fun experience staying at places off the main road, I typically would never have visited.
Let us start with the low-down: Harvest Hosts costs $99.00 a year to join. Your membership gets you free overnight stays at their host sites. The only thing they ask, is that you purchase something in the range of $15.00 to $20.00 at the host business, to help support the business. You must also have a self-contained camper or motor home. Meaning your own water supply, inside cooking and bath, and power source. You are also only allowed to stay one night.
My first stay was in August, driving cross country. I visited the Toro Winery overlooking Lake Cayuga, one New York’s glacial Finger Lakes. My friend, Sharon, and I, ordered a sampling of their wine and ended up purchasing two more bottles to go! Our campsite was beautiful, overlooking the vineyards towards the lake. We set up a small table and chairs to sit outside and enjoyed our summer dinner with a glass of wine. We were the only ones there and I felt safe. The host said there would be a farm hand on a tractor in the morning and there was.
- Always arrive an hour before the host’s closing hours, so you have time to park and explore the host’s business.
- Use a coupon code when you join Harvest Hosts. This code will save you 15% off. http://harvesthosts.refr.cc/bonnieshafto1
- Always read the reviews on Harvest Host’s website to know what previous guests have said about the host site, so you know what to expect.
- If you are traveling with a friend, who also is a member of Harvest Hosts, a lot of the host sites have multiple spots, so you can park together.
- Make sure you support the local business you are visiting. They count on it! I think this past year, it was a way for many of the host sites, to remain open during the pandemic.
Tularosa Winery, in Southern New Mexico, was my second stay. The host was friendly at this family run winery, full of knowledge of history and local things to do in the area. I camped in a field next door to the tasting room, with great views and surrounded by pistachio trees and a beautiful sunset. Here, I purchased a wonderful apricot-plum cider for a Christmas present to a cider fan in the family.
My third stay was in Willcox, Arizona., east of Tucson, at Birds and Barrels Vineyard, right on the Arizona Wine Trail. After settling in a field, between the vineyards and pistachio grove, with a great view again of the mountains, I went for a tasting and bought a wonderful bottle of their Petit Verdot and a bag of Pistachios, grown by the farmer next door, that they sold. Birds and Barrels has a great back patio for watching the sunset and friendly hosts. My friend Paula, who was with me and a Harvest Host member, had trouble with her propane heater. The host let her pull up near their home and plug into electricity, as the temps that night where in the 20’s, very nice folks.
My final visit was at Our Desert Homestead, right outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico. This farm is totally off the grid and self-sustaining, including their own farm animals. Initially, I was concerned I might hear the animals at night, but they were on the other side of the home and it was the best, quiet night’s sleep I had that week of traveling. The hosts can provide you with two different tours and they loved showing off their farm. One tour is of their “off grid” set up which includes solar power, wind power, and composting toilets. The second tour is the homestead activities, such as feeding the chickens, ducks, turkeys, and goats. This host site would be so fun if you had children or grandchildren traveling with you. At the desert farm, I could purchase firewood, eggs, and reusable grocery bags made from seed and feed bags. I purchased two!
I am looking forward to staying at other Harvest Hosts. There is an alpaca farm in Texas, the Route 66 Junkyard and Brewery in Grant, New Mexico., and a vegetable farm in Iowa. They all sound intriguing and fun. Has it been worth it? Yes!! The experience, meeting locals, and coming home with goodies from the sites I traveled to, totally makes up for the annual membership fee. I would not trade them for anything!
Written by Bonnie Shafto
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