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harvest hosts

Harvest Hosts Offers Unique Travel Experiences for RVers 

Montana Max & Kansas City Jen Hit the Road

When Max and Jen Nelson look back on their eye-opening cross-country trip, their experiences in southeastern Idaho will probably always stand out. One reason is the alarming sounds of the magnificent but intimidating bison that roused them from their peaceful slumber. 

Max, who is originally from Montana, was familiar with the huge mammals’ guttural grunts, but they were startling to his wife, who frantically awakened him to investigate.  

“It was a beautiful summer day last June, so we had the windows open in the RV, and at about two or three in the morning, Jen said, ‘There’s somebody outside!’” Max explains. “I was thinking, ‘No way, we’re on a bison ranch in the middle of nowhere in Idaho.’ But it wasn’t a person; it was the bison snorting at us. They were on the other side of a paddock fence but only about a foot away from our window. If you’ve never heard it before, it’s quite a unique sound to wake up to.”  

rving at a bison ranch

The couple, also known as Montana Max and Kansas City Jen, are culinary professionals who are on a tour of the continental United States promoting their line of sauces and seasonings. They’ve rolled through just over 30 states so far in their 40-foot motorhome and expect to wrap up their epic journey after another couple of months of state-to-state adventures.  

Besides the stunning natural beauty they encountered, another highlight of their time in Idaho was their visit to an unexpectedly captivating attraction called the Museum of Clean, in the nearby city of Pocatello.  

“It’s a four-story museum that’s dedicated to anything you can imagine that’s related to cleaning or being cleaned,” says Max. “It’s in a beautiful spot, and the tour was just phenomenal. We didn’t know what to expect at all but were blown away.” 

Harvest Hosts Has a Place for Everyone

rv camping on an alpaca farm

These back-to-back stops on their itinerary illustrate the diversity of the types of places where RVers can set up short-term camps through a membership program called Harvest Hosts. There are more than 5,000 properties around the country available for overnight stays, most of them without amenities such as electricity, water or sewer service. As the name suggests, many of them are agrarian in nature, on such bucolic locales as farms, orchards, vineyards and wineries. But other Harvest Hosts properties are in urban areas, with examples being museums, churches, casinos, breweries and even a moonshine distillery. For travelers trying to stretch their budgets, they can be convenient and interesting places to bed down for a night on their way to somewhere else.  

Annual Harvest Hosts membership fees start at $99, which is roughly the equivalent of a night or two at a conventional campground. Pricier packages, costing up to $179 a year, give guests extra perks such as access to country clubs and golf courses.  

“There’s something for everyone, and it can be different every day,” says Max. “You’ve got a safe place to camp, you’re experiencing something cool and you don’t have to pay out of pocket for it.” 

Another big fan of Harvest Hosts is longtime RV camper Kyle Brady of Fairhope, Alabama, who travels with his wife, Olivia, and their young daughter. Brady, who produces online RV-related content under the brand Drivin’ & Vibin’, loves the program’s recommended custom of reciprocally supporting the participating businesses by buying their various wares.  

“It’s just the best practice, to spend a little money there in return,” says Brady. “We visited a goat farm once and bought lots of milk products and goat cheeses.”  

His family’s other fond Harvest Hosts memories include winding down from the road at a car museum in Florida, a winery in downtown Sacramento, and a lavender farm in gorgeous Sequim, Washington.  

“It’s one of the most beautiful places in Washington,” Brady recalls. “We were able to park in a grassy area beside this huge weeping willow tree. It was so peaceful and serene, and we were able to use their internet.”

lavender farm rv camping

Like the Nelsons, the Brady family favors “boondocking,” which is camping “off the grid” and relying solely on their own supplies and resources. Rather than checking into conventional (and often crowded) campgrounds, they love the solitude they find in remote, undeveloped areas. Sometimes, though, a Plan B makes more sense, and that’s when they may find themselves grabbing a few hours of sleep in the parking lot of a business or even the driveway of a kindred spirit who offers hospitality through another facet of Harvest Hosts called Boondockers Welcome.  

Everything an RVer Could Need

“Harvest Hosts, for us, is this awesome way to meet in the middle of boondocking and actually camping in a developed area,” Brady says. “Sometimes they have hook-ups, which is nice, but most of the time it’s off-grid camping but on the site of a kind business that allows RVs to park there. In the case of the brewery in the heart of Sacramento’s business district, we were essentially camping in a paved parking lot. It was not scenic at all, but it was fun to be in a central location like that.” 

montana max united states of flavor

During the Nelsons’ travels, officially called the United States of Flavor Tour, the couple and their three rescue dogs (chows named Luna, Noelle, and Yeti) are making tracks in their 2005 Newmar Class A “diesel pusher” that resembles a tour bus. Along the way, they conduct cooking demonstrations, which they film and share on social media and other sites, to call attention to their Montana Max BBQ products. As a result, they’ve found new retail markets for their offerings and have forged many new friendships, no doubt sealed like their business agreements with a smile and a friendly handshake. These are among the lasting impressions they’ll take back with them to their home in Arkansas after covering almost 50,000 miles over the course of a year.  

“We’re not just sending emails or talking to people on the phone,” Max says. “Life is about relationships, and we’re creating that kind of bond with people all across this country. To meet all of these people across all of these walks of life has been absolutely amazing.” 

Begin your adventure at harvesthosts.com

Stacy Lyn Harris’s Home Life of Adventure
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