Looking for free RV camping sites? Join Harvest Hosts and gain access to over 1000 unique locations throughout North America including golf courses, wineries and farms. Here’s everything you need to know about Harvest Hosts memberships and the joys of free overnight stays.
The Greatest Thing to Hit RVing?
Do you every daydream about owning a winery? Imagine sitting on an Adirondack chair at sunset, gazing over your carefully tended vineyard while sipping a glass of your own specialty wine.
What a life!
Of course we overlook the realities of actually running a winery, hiring staff and worrying about bugs and drought. Harvest Hosts is the perfect solution by letting you live out your fantasy without the hard work. By joining Harvest Hosts, you can RV camp at over 1,400 wineries, breweries and farms. It’s an exciting option, whether you’re a full-time RVer or a newbie.
What is Harvest Hosts?
Today, thanks to some entrepreneurial RVers, unique RV camping locations are available through the Harvest Hosts program. In 2010, Don and Kim Greene traveled Europe in an RV. They discovered France Passion, a program where campers stay overnight at a variety of wineries and farms. They liked the program so well they started Harvest Hosts in the United States and ran it until 2018 when Joel Holland and his wife Mary Ashley bought the company. Their goal? “To help a lot of people live happier lives by getting them off the couch and on the open road.”
Evidently people are getting on the open road because Harvest Hosts is increasing at a staggering rate. In September 2020 alone, 130 new Harvest Host sites were added. Presently there are:
- 554 Wineries
- 164 Breweries & distilleries
- 405 Farms
- 282 Museums & other attractions
- 357 Golf courses & country clubs
How Does Harvest Hosts Work?
Remember the excitement of being young and camping with your parents? You’d drive somewhere and easily find a state park or private campground. Dad would struggle setting up a musty smelling canvas tent. Or, if you were really high-class, your family had a pop-up trailer. Then it was time to roam the campground, exploring creeks and, if you were like me, having stick fights with siblings. That was camping!
Today, with the popularity of RVing rising dramatically, it’s often difficult to find a camping space in an RV park. Many places are overpriced and definitely “over-crowded”. Some National Park campgrounds take reservations one year in advance!
Harvest Hosts is RV camping, offering a smaller, more personal and unique experience. Most Harvest Hosts locations have a few acres and only offer 1-3 spots a night. There are exceptions though. Six Sigma Ranch in Lower Lake, California, is a 40,300 acre ranch open to Harvest Hosts guests! But in most cases, Harvest Hosts owners have smaller businesses and will direct you to a parking area near their house, barn or museum.
Boondockers Welcome at Harvest Hosts Locations
Just remember, the majority of Harvest Hosts sites are for dry camping or boondocking only. Electricity, water or sewer hookups are rare.
Your membership program of $79.00 a year provides access to a network of over 1,400 wineries, farms, breweries and other attractions. For an additional $40.00 membership cost, you can also access 340 golf courses.
Campers with self-contained RVs are invited to camp for free next to a pack of llamas or overlooking a well-maintained and beautiful winery. All across the US and Canada, small business owners invite Harvest Hosts members to camp for the night.
Read More: Essential Guide to RV Boondocking
Like sampling the latest in craft beers? Stay at a brewery where the owner will teach you about the brewing process. Have kids that like animals? Stay at Shepard’s Rest Goat and Sheep Rescue near Lincoln, Nebraska, and your kids will meet 60 goats and sheep living in abundant pastures. Like speed? And noise? Plan to stay at the Mobile International Speedway by Irvington Texas, and enjoy stock car races.
How does it sound to camp by a cranberry bog, a classic car museum or a sky diving facility? Harvest Hosts introduces you to a style of camping that is truly unique and educational. When we camped at Magnolia Blossoms Alpaca Ranch, the owner, Kerry Bates, gave us an informative tour of the ranch while explaining how they harvest the wool from his 48 alpacas and llamas. Naturally I bought a pair of alpaca wool socks which keep my feet quite toasty!
Is Camping Really Free with Membership?
Well…yes and no. Camping is free and you could simply greet your host at check-in, pull into the parking lot, and leave the next morning. In the spirit of supporting locally owned businesses, Harvest Hosts “etiquette” suggests you support the business by buying an item in their gift shop, making a donation to their animal rescue effort or purchasing a wine tasting to help you choose a bottle of wine. (Or a case, as some people do!)
For many hosts, the additional revenue brought in by Harvest Hosts guests has been a welcome asset as people stay home during the COVID shutdown. It’s suggested you purchase something in the range of $20.00, which is still less than most campgrounds! While staying overnight at the Anelare Winery in Benton City, Washington, my husband and I sipped wine at sunset and enjoyed our “Mac Daddy” pizza while looking at the amazing vineyard view. So yes, we camped for free, but also supported the winery while enjoying dinner.
Read More: Best Vehicles for Camping
How Do You Find Harvest Hosts Locations?
Simple! There’s an online directory as well as an app. Put in the location where you want to visit and get numerous suggestions. While coming through the Yakima Valley area in Washington, I got 17 possibilities of places to stay. The website and app also include photos, recommendations and reviews of the overnight experience. I’ve read many of the reviews and have yet to find one that doesn’t rave about their Harvest Hosts stay. After finding a location, call the Harvest Hosts owner and ask for a reservation at least 24 hours in advance. Then just show up and enjoy a unique and personal camping experience.
What are the Rules of Harvest Hosts Camping?
As with everything in life, common sense and courtesy go a long way to making a Harvest Hosts site experience pleasant for everyone. A few basic rules include:
- Let the owner know if you must cancel your reservation. They often have waiting lists.
- Take your trash with you! Harvest Hosts are not set up for you to leave bags of trash you may have been accumulating.
- Ask permission to run your generator.
- Supervise your children. Yes, they’ll be excited to be at an emu farm, but it might not be safe to crawl over the fence to pet an emu.
- Understand it is expected you’ll only stay one night.
- Ask in advance if pets are permitted. In most cases Harvest Hosts welcome pets, but there are cases where pets can disturb livestock or other animals.
- Plan on cooking in your RV. This is not the time to set up your table and barbeque outside. Better yet, eat dinner at the Harvest Hosts site, if they serve meals.
Still need convincing that Harvest Hosts is for you? Then check out Heartland Farms in Pawnee Rock, Kansas. This alpaca farm and business is run by the Dominican Sisters of Peace. After Sister Jane shows you your parking site, you can walk a labyrinth, enjoy the alpacas, meditate in the silo and hike the trails. Oh yes… evidently Sister Imelda gives the best massages!