When you’re planning a cross-country road trip, you need every resource at your disposal. While there’s always a place for campgrounds and boondocking spots, I’ve really enjoyed adding the collection of Harvest Hosts locations to my road trip arsenal in recent years.
From breweries to vineyards to golf courses to museums, there’s quite a variety of places you can camp with Harvest Hosts. With their annual membership, each location doesn’t have a camping fee. Yes, you read that right. While they encourage you to purchase during your stay, the stay itself is free!
So, let’s explain what Harvest Hosts is and talk about some of my tips for using Harvest Hosts to plan your next great American road trip.
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What Is Harvest Hosts?
Harvest Hosts is a membership-based platform with an annual subscription fee. You can choose from three different subscription plans: Harvest Hosts Classic, Harvest Hosts Classic + Boondockers Welcome, and the All Access membership. Harvest Hosts has a website you can use to sign in and search for destinations, but they also have an app for iPhone and Android.
Stays are limited to a single night and all traditional RV classes (A, B, and C) are permitted, as well as fifth wheels, travel trailers, toy haulers, truck campers, and schoolies. However, your RV must be fully self-contained. That means you must have an interior toilet and built-in holding tanks or bladders for wastewater.
In addition to access to their network of hosts, members can upload photos and reviews to share with the community, create road trip routes and save appealing hosts for later reference, and receive a monthly newsletter with new Hosts and events nationwide. They also provide the potential for more than $700 in additional savings through their external partnerships with companies in the RV retail and camping industries.
Where Can You Stay with Harvest Hosts?
The locations you can stay will depend on which Harvest Hosts membership you select. The entire collection of destinations includes farms, wineries, breweries, golf courses, and other museums and attractions.
The Classic membership gives you access to book at 820 wineries, 1954 farms, 1531 attractions, and 650 breweries and distilleries. The upgraded Classic + Boondockers Welcome membership includes those locations while adding on 3654 community hosts. The All Access membership includes all the aforementioned locations and adds 442 golf courses and locations for 7,000 dump stations.
That adds up to thousands of destinations throughout the lower 48, Canada, Alaska, and Baja California. And in the time I’ve been using Harvest Hosts (2+ years), this collection of host locations has continuously expanded.
How To Plan a Road Trip Route with Harvest Hosts
Whether you sign in via your web browser or install the Harvest Hosts app on your phone, their search engine allows you to input your intended route to find locations along the way. But here’s my take, I still primarily utilize Google Maps for the route planning part of my road trip prep.
That’s largely because I want the navigation saved for reference as I’m traveling. I’m not going to use the Harvest Hosts app to navigate to my destination. I primarily use it to find stays and then copy the destination’s location into Google Maps for navigation.
Still, their ‘Search by Route’ feature can be useful when you’re still in the trip planning phase. For example, my last trip took me from Austin, Texas to Hendersonville, North Carolina. The map then pulls up the most direct route and shows me the Host locations along the way. I can also filter by how far off my route I’m willing to go (in this case, 10 miles).
While this is a helpful feature, you’ll still need to drill down to find Host locations that fit your larger road trip goals. Here are my recommendations for planning your road trip route with Harvest Hosts:
- Plan based on how far you want to drive each day, not on a specific Harvest Hosts location. Your driving safety is largely dependent on your ability to stay awake and aware. I’d decide how far I want to drive and then find if there’s a Host location in that region more than I’d push to stay at a specific Host location.
- Beware of required arrival times. Some Hosts require that you arrive before a certain hour, making their location a non-viable option if you’re going to be pulling in late after a long day of driving.
- Be willing to adapt your daily driving plan. If there’s a Host location you really want to check out, maybe you drive less one day so you can stay there and enjoy their property before doing a bigger drive day the next day.
- Book other campgrounds and RV parks too. You’ll likely still need to occasionally connect to shore power unless your rig is designed for long-term boondocking. Sprinkle your Harvest Host stays between nights at a campground where you can hook up to power, fill your freshwater tank, and empty your holding tanks.
- Check host operating hours. Last time I pulled into a brewery Host around 7 pm, anticipating enjoying a cold beer or two to thank the Host for allowing me to stay. Well, it was a Monday night and they were closed. Check those operating hours, as they may not impact your ability to stay overnight, but they may hurt your chances of enjoying the destination and repaying the Host for your free stay.
How To Select Harvest Hosts Locations For Your Stays
In addition to allowing you to search for Host locations by your intended road trip route, their search engine also allows you to filter by region (mostly states and provinces) or by entering a specific location. You can also use the map to browse generally, but you can also filter results by the type of location you’re looking for.
You can also filter by RV length (although 80% of hosts allow vehicles of any length), pets allowed, slideouts allowed, same-day booking allowed, and availability of separate vehicle parking.
Here’s a big piece of advice: the one additional filter you can easily miss is to show only hosts with online availability, meaning you can book a stay directly through the web browser or your phone app. That’s a big deal because there are certain hosts that only accept bookings over the phone, and I’ve personally had difficulty contacting many hosts over the phone that say it’s the only way they accept bookings.
That can create unnecessary stress if you’re looking to book a same-day stay or searching for something for the next evening. Most times, I’m not planning Harvest Hosts stays SUPER far in advance, so the ability to book directly through the app is paramount to my confidence that I’ll actually have a safe, acceptable place to stay on the night in question.
My Favorite Harvest Host Locations
With a healthy number of Harvest Host stays now under my belt, here are a few of my favorite locations:
Coyote Del Malpais Golf Course
Location: Grants, New Mexico
I’ve stopped here twice now and each time I’ve been the only RV camper in the parking lot. The golf course lies less than 10 minutes off I-40 and looks across a beautiful New Mexico valley. On my first stay, I watched a lightning storm roll across the valley in the distance to the south while the colors of sunset painted the sky to the west.
I’ve walked the front 9 times I’ve stayed, and they’ve allowed me to walk with my Husky, Marley in tow. It’s a fun local course, not super challenging, but all you can hope for at a green fee of less than $20. Once I walked at sunset and the other at sunrise. I think I preferred the latter, but you really can’t go wrong. Everyone in the Pro Shop has been super friendly, and because the green fee is so reasonable, I’d recommend grabbing a snack or beverages from the bar to show your gratitude for the free campsite.
Pro Tip: They’ll ask you to camp at the westernmost edge of the parking lot, as far away from the Pro Shop building as possible. There’s a single water spigot on the backside of the building if you need to refill a portable water container.
Holesinsky Vineyard & Winery
Location: Buhl, Idaho
My partner and I stayed here on our last cross-country road trip, between a stop at Craters of the Moon National Monument and our stay outside of Boise (love Boise and highly recommend checking it out if you haven’t already!).
There were two other RVs camping on site when we arrived (one Class A motorhome and one camper van). They even offered RV hookups (for a fee), but we parked on the side of the camping area furthest away from the hookups and relied on our portable generator for the evening.
The location is slightly elevated, offering a beautiful sunset view out towards the Snake River valley to the north. We really enjoyed walking through the vineyard, but didn’t arrive in time to actually sample any of their wine. We had trouble getting in touch with the Host rep, as we wanted to purchase a bottle over the phone and see if they could leave it somewhere for us. Still, it was a great stay and one of my favorites so far.
Pro Tip: Arrive here before the Host’s recommended arrival time so you can enjoy a wine tasting or grab a bottle to sample their hard work!
Next Level Brewing Company
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee
I stayed overnight outside of this sweet little Knoxville brewery on my final night heading back to Hendersonville from Austin. The bartender (the only gent seemingly working there that evening) was super friendly and came outside to show me where I could park. He gave me two options and I squeezed in next to their outdoor patio space.
Their beer was delicious (I got a four-pack of their Nature Boi Kolsch) and it was within a short walking distance of a few places to eat. I wound up grabbing a burger up the street at Yee-Haw Brewing Company, which was delicious. But there’s also Super Mario’s Pizza right around the corner. Don’t miss out on The Donut Shop (yes, that’s the real name) on the corner, a two-minute walk from the brewery.
Pro Tip: This destination is really best for van campers, shorter class C motorhomes, or those with smaller towable campers. I have a 19’ travel trailer, and I managed to get in and out of the lot with minimal tongue jack scraping, but the angle will make things difficult for anything larger.
Other Tips For Staying With Harvest Hosts
Over the course of the last two years of being a Harvest Hosts member, I’ve picked up a few extra tips for making the most of your stays and maximizing the value of your membership. Here are a few more tips:
- Check recommended arrival times. Some hosts have specific times that they hope you’ll arrive in the evening. Late arrivals are typically allowed, but it’s recommended to communicate directly if you’ll be later.
- Communicate early and often. Hosts are more likely to give you local recommendations or invite you to enjoy hosted activities if you communicate with them early and often throughout the booking process and leading up to your stay.
- Travel with cash. Not all host locations will accept credit or debit cards as payment for the products or services they offer. So it’s a good idea to carry cash so you can compensate them for their unique offerings.
- Build free time into your itinerary. While many of my Harvest Host stays have been en route to another destination, it’s good to build extra time into your itinerary so you can enjoy some of the activities that your hosts offer.
- Enjoy the hosted activities. Play 9 or 18 holes, take a museum tour, drink a few beers, or enjoy a wine tasting. These extra activities are where the real value lies in your Harvest Hosts membership.
Here are a few more resources that will help you plan your next RV road trip:
- The Ultimate Baja Road Trip: Insider Tips, Tricks, and Must-Knows for First-Timers
- The Best RV Campgrounds in Utah for a Mighty 5 Road Trip
- The 14 Best Camping Apps for Van and RV Adventures
What questions do you have about Harvest Hosts and using if for a cross-country road trip? Let us know in the comments below.