Call all hosts in advance to reserve spots and verify hours and availability of goods and services for purchase.
Yet another odd silver lining of the pandemic: a boom in RV travel. Harvest Hosts, a nationwide network of caravan hosts, has dozens of Arizona spots to enrich your road trips.
This summer, as international travel was prohibited and even domestic travel seemed dicey due to increasing cases of COVID-19, a dark horse emerged in the world of wanderlust. “This is going to be the summer of the RV,” David Basler, vice president of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, told USA Today. At press time, it looked likely to spread into fall – a recent U.S. Travel Association survey showed that 68 percent of people felt safe traveling in a personal vehicle, compared to those who felt safe flying: 18 percent domestically, 11 percent internationally.
“People feel safer there. They’re contained,” says Lisa Manning, customer success manager at Harvest Hosts. “You’ve got your house with you. You don’t have to pack, don’t have to unpack. You just load it all into your RV and go. Wander if you want to.”
The nationwide organization pairs RVers with hosts in picturesque settings – wineries, breweries, farms and special attractions like museums and caves – for free one-night stays. The catch: The RVers must be “self-contained” (read: have cooking and restroom facilities inside their vehicles, nothing external) and should purchase something in the $20 range – a bottle of wine, a pizza, souvenirs – from their hosts to make it “a reciprocal transaction.” Members pay a $79 annual fee for access to unlimited hosts. Hosts pay nothing and may charge RVers for subsequent nights after the first free one.
Arizona boasts “about 35” of the network’s roughly 1,142 hosts, Manning says. You can make a vacation out of visiting as many as possible, or hit just a few on your way out of the state. Mask up and visit these 10 Harvest Hosts that are close to home.
Join Harvest Hosts using PHOENIX magazine’s affiliate link and use the code PHOENIX to save 15 percent on your membership: harvesthosts.refr.cc/phoenixmagazine. The magazine may earn a commission, but Harvest Hosts was independently selected by the editorial staff.
Pillsbury Wine Company
Distance from Downtown Phoenix: 210 miles
Why it’s worth a visit: Filmmaker turned winemaker Sam Pillsbury is a charming raconteur and generous host who was among the first to make truly good Arizona wine. We love the Rosé One Night Stand, with its summery smack of strawberry and watermelon. If you visit during harvest (August-October), you may even be able to help pick the grapes.
Contact: 6450 S. Bennett Pl., Willcox, 928-595-2001, pillsburywine.com
We recommend purchasing: Pillsbury himself is partial to the 2018 WildChild Red ($25).
High Lonesome Vineyard
Distance from Downtown Phoenix: 204 miles
Why it’s worth a visit: Veterans Tom and Edie Gustason run this newish winery just outside of Tombstone. You’d never guess they’re relative newcomers by their wines, which display delicious sophistication. If you like rosé and Malbec, try the Lemberger, a spicy, light-bodied red that’s well-suited for September and the transition between summer and autumn.
Contact: 8979 N. High Lonesome Rd., McNeal, 909-557-4872, highlonesomevineyard.com
We recommend purchasing: The 2018 Picpoul Blanc ($29) is a full-bodied yet easy-drinking white with notes of apricot, white peach and grapefruit – perfect for summer.
Distance from Downtown Phoenix: 64 miles
Why it’s worth a visit: The winery is just part of this sprawling haven in Pinal County, which also includes two lakes, a lake house with a pier, a 100-year-old barn and a tasting room inside a 1920s dairy barn. In normal times, you can get delivery service from local restaurants or order from food trucks that pop up a few times a week. No guarantees right now, but worth checking.
Contact: 1140 W. Butte Ave., Florence, 520-858-6050, thewindmillwinery.com
We recommend purchasing: The 2018 Barbera ($32) is jammy and fruity, with bursts of strawberry and plum.
Desert Diamond Distillery
Distance from Downtown Phoenix: 196 miles
Why it’s worth a visit: Arizona’s oldest craft distillery has been making tasty hooch since 2009. A frequent winner at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, Desert Diamond specializes in rum, whiskey and vodka, and has even begun selling its own vanilla extract, which, after all, is just vanilla beans steeped in alcohol.
Contact: 4875 N. Olympic Dr., Kingman, 928-757-7611, desertdiamonddistillery.com
We recommend purchasing: The Gold Miner Dark Rum ($31.99) is fabulous for sipping or for mixing into a Dark ‘N’ Stormy.
Thunder Mountain Alpaca Ranch
Distance from Downtown Phoenix: 205 miles
Why it’s worth a visit: Alpacas! The fuzzy cuties roam Thunder Mountain’s ranch, which overlooks the scenic San Pedro River Valley. You can take a ranch tour and meet the crew, then browse a bunch of products made with alpaca fleece in the Backyard Barnyard Boutique: hats, gloves, scarves, socks and more.
Contact: Between Palominas and Hereford, call for directions: 520-249-0362, thundermountainalpacaranch.com
We recommend purchasing: Pick up some alpaca fleece yarn ($6-$8 per ounce) for your quarantine knitting projects.
From the Farm
Distance from Downtown Phoenix: 179 miles
Why it’s worth a visit: You can get date shakes, tacos made with local produce and antiques all in one place at this funky farm. Stock up on sauces and jellies at the emporium and then take a meandering walk to Yuma’s historical McPhaul Suspension Bridge, built in 1929 and rumored to be a model for San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.
Contact: 5158 E. U.S. Hwy. 95, Yuma, 928-580-1051, fromthefarmyuma.com
We recommend purchasing: Buy some local honey ($6-$12) and fresh produce (varies) for the road.
Rock Springs Café
Distance from Downtown Phoenix: 45 miles
Why it’s worth a visit: Everyone’s favorite pit stop on the way to Flagstaff has a full menu of hearty, old-school favorites like liver and onions, meatloaf and chicken-fried steak to fortify you for your travels. But let’s be real: The main attraction is pie, which Rock Springs bakers turn out in countless permutations of pastry, fruit, cream, nuts and chocolate, from cherry crumb to coconut cream.
Contact: 35900 S. Old Black Canyon Hwy., Rock Springs, 623-374-5794, rockspringscafe.com
We recommend purchasing: Pie, of course! The Jack Daniel’s pecan ($25.95) is a classic.
Mike’s Route 66 Outpost and Saloon
Distance from Downtown Phoenix: 206 miles
Why it’s worth a visit: It’s a quirky stop for food, beer and wine in Kingman, located right on Historic Route 66. Visitors are encouraged to leave their marks on the walls by affixing signed dollar bills or writing directly on them. The kitschy outdoor décor – a life-size faux horse pulling a wagon on the roof, along with Wild West ephemera – makes for great photo ops.
Contact: 9321 E. U.S. Hwy. 66, Kingman, 928-692-2166, mikes-route-66-outpost-saloon.business.site
We recommend purchasing: You can’t go wrong with a prime rib sandwich ($8) and large pitcher of beer ($8).
Teec Nos Pos Trading Post
Distance from Downtown Phoenix: 364 miles
Why it’s worth a visit: This traditional trading post on the New Mexico border was established in 1905 and boasts one of the best selections of rugs, art and jewelry in the Navajo Nation. It also serves as a gas station and general store, so you can fuel up and purchase groceries while you peruse turquoise necklaces and woven baskets.
Contact: Junction of U.S. Highways 160 & 64, Teec Nos Pos, 928-656-3224, facebook.com/pages/teec-nos-pos-trading/381120242402574
We recommend purchasing: An authentic rug can run hundreds or thousands of dollars – a worthy splurge, especially to support the local economy during this tough time. If you’re on a budget, you can find interesting bric-a-brac in the $20 range.
Oakcreek Country Club
Distance from Downtown Phoenix: 109 miles
Why it’s worth a visit: The ability to park your RV at golf clubs is an upgrade on the basic Harvest Hosts membership, but for views like you’ll get at Sedona’s premier course, it’s a no-brainer. Magnificent red rocks flank you in all directions on this 18-hole beauty, the home of the Sedona Open.
Contact: 690 Bell Rock Blvd., Sedona, 928-295-6400, oakcreekcc.com
We recommend purchasing: We assume you’re up for a round of golf or two? Rates vary by time of year and time of day.