We’ve all been there, driving over the course of several days to reach your destination. You pull your RV into a campground, pay $40-$50 for just an overnight, then drive somewhere for dinner because you’re too tired to make food and leave first thing in the morning. Been there. A quick overnight on the cheap isn’t easy because the farther east you travel in the U.S. the more challenging it is to find boondocking opportunities (also we’re not that great at finding approved locations, but that’s a different blog post). So we thought we would try out Harvest Hosts.
What is Harvest Hosts?
This is an interesting concept for people who enjoy camping. Companies like wineries, breweries, museums and other locations that have space for dry camping. So if you can bring your own water, use a generator for power and not need to dump, this is a place you can go. There is an annual fee but then you can stay at any of their Harvest Host locations for free (well, sort of any way). They do ask that you spend a little money at these locations while you’re there. So purchase a bottle of wine from a winery, take a tour of the museum, etc. It provides you an experience at the location where you’re staying.
How Harvest Hosts works
After you join, that’s when you can see all of the Harvest Hosts locations. You can put in your stats on your vehicle and then search by that kind of access. When we do a search we make sure the filter shows us only locations that can fit more than a 45-foot rig. While our fifth-wheel is 42 feet, with our truck it’s more than 45 feet. And based on our Hipcamp location when that was really tight, I feel like putting in larger dimensions is better.
When we first started with Harvest Host, the one thing I wasn’t too excited about was that it seemed like you were only supposed contact your host a few days before your arrival rather than plan ahead. That made me — a planner by nature — a bit uneasy. But it seems more recently some locations have the ability for you to “request a stay” and you just fill input your date(s) on the calendar. The company has also stated that you should only stay one night, but we’ve had a few places be pretty open to multi-night stays.
Once you request your stay and it’s approved, you will get an email with directions and any other pertinent information about the location and where to stay. Because you’re spending money there, you’ll want to make sure you find a spot you can get to before it closes. Some wineries close by 6 pm and if you’re not going to make it by the time they close, then you should probably find a different Harvest Hosts location.
Where we have stayed
In the three months of being on the road full time we’ve stayed at a bowling alley, an airport and a ski hill. All places we NEVER would have stopped during our travels if it weren’t for Harvest Hosts.
The first place was Uinta Lanes in Evanston, WY. The bowling alley also has a restaurant and bar. We went over and had dinner and drinks at night and a quick lunch before we were on our way the next day. While the location is not exactly picturesque, the owners and staff are very hospitable. They helped us find a good location to park our rig and let us know if we had any questions they were available. We also met the owner and talked to him for a while as well as a few locals and the bartenders. It was fun!
The next place we stayed was at the Iowa Aviation Heritage Museum in Ankeny. That was a cool place. The museum is in a hangar right at the Ankeny airport. We requested to stay there on July 4. The gentleman who runs the museum has a TON of historic memorabilia from many wars — including World War II and Vietnam. He was there to welcome us and give us a tour which included a few planes to look at. With that location we gave him a donation (they don’t take online donations, FYI). If you’re traveling through there, we highly recommend it. There was so much war history and unique items to see.
Most recently, we stayed at Big Snow Resort in Wakefield, MI. It is home to Indianhead Mountain. This was a GREAT spot for big rigs! The drive up is a breeze and rigs can set up in the big parking lots they use for skier parking in the winter. We had dinner at the Sky Bar and Grill about two blocks walking distance. We had company but we were well spaced out and our location (on the end facing trees) felt pretty private actually.
Harvest Hosts may not be for everyone, but it works for us. Even if we’re staying just one night somewhere, we’re still looking for dinner or something to do. So we don’t mind spending money at a location. This camping platform, so far has been a winner for us. One side note, Harvest Hosts did not pay us for this post.