A Harvest Hosts membership offers members the unique opportunity to visit small businesses all across America and learn more about them. These businesses could include anything from a winery in Minnesota to an auto museum in Indiana or even an alpaca farm in Minnesota. With over 1028+ locations to choose from, the opportunities for free overnight camping are truly endless. One such unique and enjoyable host location is Walnut Hollow Ranch. Located in the scenic Nantahala area of the Smoky Mountains, this working cattle ranch welcomes all sorts of visitors. With a set of pastoral views perfectly framed by mountain ridges, this Harvest Hosts location is not to be missed. Continue on to learn all about this 155-acre farm, its history, and all there is to see and do when visiting.
The History of Walnut Hollow Ranch
Walnut Hollow Ranch informally began in 2001, when the farmland for the business was initially purchased. Hailing from New Jersey, Charlie Kissling, the owner, always had an interest in and admiration for cattle, quality food, and the mountains. The farm operation began to allow Charlie to pursue a career in agriculture. The first of his black angus herd arrived in 2005. Since then, the ranch has been raising cattle and producing all natural, grass-fed beef year after year, and the rest is history.
The Business Today
In 2011, Walnut Hollow Ranch added agritourism to its list of offerings, transforming the business into what it is today. Currently, they operate a full RV campground with hookups or dry camping available. As far as activities to enjoy, farm visitors have so much to choose from.
One of the best parts of staying here is the opportunity to meet Charlie and learn about the ranch. Charlie especially enjoys introducing his ranch and sharing his wealth of knowledge about sustainable, regenerative management of productive pastures, genetics, animal husbandry, and environmental and conservation practices. He specifically prides himself on producing the highest-quality, boldest-tasting premium beef possible. Any questions you may have can be answered on a tour. At the farm store, you can also purchase various cuts of beef in small batches or bulk (advanced reservation suggested).
Because of its high-quality product and commitment to sustainability, Walnut Hollow Ranch was bestowed the 2014 Area 1 Conservation Farm Family of the year award. It was the first business in Clay County to receive recognition from the NC Department of Environmental Quality. The ranch continues to take great pride in the stewardship of the land.
Staying at Walnut Hollow Ranch
In 2015, Walnut Hollow Ranch became a Harvest Hosts member, allowing members to boondock on their land for one night. However, Harvest Hosts are not the only overnight visitors, as their RV campground offers seven RV sites with 50-amp, 30-amp, 20-amp or 15-amp power available. Water is also available, with an on-site dump station available. The campground offers both nightly and weekly rates, as well as long-term leases and even RV storage. They are big rig, pet and horse friendly, with firepits, WiFi, restrooms, showers, and laundry available. Those without an RV are welcome to tent camp (ten sites available) or stay in one of their two lovely farmhouse rooms.
Things to Do
There are so many activities for Walnut Hollow Ranch visitors to enjoy, both on and off the ranch. Tours are available year round, with the option for a 30-minute or 90-minute educational tour. The 30-minute tour is best for families with young children. There are plenty of photo opportunities, in fields and on tractor and farm equipment. Children and their parents will learn all about the management of productive pastures and how the farm operates. Those who opt for the longer tour will learn more about the cattle nutrition, beef production, conservation practices, and healthful benefits of eating local, wholesome beef. Along with learning all about the farm, visitors can expect to experience all the sights and smells of a cattle ranch and everything that comes along with it.
In addition to farm tours, the ranch also has an on-site bass pond, with catch-and-release fishing available, as well as swimming in the warmer summer months. In the surrounding national forest, visitors can find plenty of opportunities for scenic hiking, horse trails, and more. The nearby town of Hayesville is charming and has a rich history of music, arts and culture. Town visitors can enjoy restaurants, wineries, shopping, museums, theater, and so much more.
According to Charlie, hosting RVers, through both the Harvest Hosts program and the campground, has been very successful for the business. RVers tend to enjoy the views, opportunities for morning strolls, and general atmosphere of farm life experienced at Walnut Hollow Ranch. Visitors should plan to purchase and enjoy the delicious, premium beef, and there are even grills available to cook your steaks or burgers if you do not have your own. In addition, be sure to make the acquaintance of JV and Boogie, the donkey and horse duo that visitors typically enjoy meeting. Finally, be sure to bring your camera, as there are many opportunities for photos on this scenic, well-kept farm.
If all this sounds up your alley, then the next step is to book a visit. Overnight stays can be reserved through the Walnut Hollow Ranch Harvest Hosts member profile. If you would like to book an extended stay, information for doing so is available through the ranch’s website. So what are you waiting for? Call today to begin experiencing the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains from the comfort of your RV.
Have you been to Walnut Hollow Ranch? How was your experience? Do you have another excellent host location you’d like to share? Tell us about it in the comments below!
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