DULUTH, Minn. — An online site that connects private landowners with campers is growing with a similar spirit of the housing booking service Airbnb.
Blake Romenesko, 25, discovered the website Hipcamp after purchasing 5 acres of land in northern Minnesota for a private backwoods retreat he calls “Trembling Gardens,” Minnesota Public Radio reported . He’s added a large tent with a mosquito net to the land along with an outhouse and a small solar panel for a little bit of electricity.
Romenesko charges $20 a night to stay on his land, and the website takes a 10 percent cut.
Alyssa Ravasio created Hipcamp after growing frustrated that the campgrounds in her home state of California were frequently booked.
The website invites landowners to sign up to become hosts and to charge campers a fee for camping on their private land.
She said it initially was difficult to entice landowners to sign up, so the company started offering $1 million in liability insurance coverage.
The site now has 15,000 campsite hosts, with about 20 in Minnesota.
Adam Lindquist became a host this summer. He rents out two campsites on his small vineyard near Northfield, each for $25 a night.
“It’s a really neat thing, it’s a wonderful way to share the land, to get people out,” Lindquist said.
He said he’s hosted about 15 groups and that the website is a nice source of additional income.
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officials say they aren’t concerned about the new competition. State park campground occupancy has increased more than 20 percent over the last five years.
“I think the more camping options we have in Minnesota, the more people we’ll have out camping,” said Pat Arndt, a spokesman for the department. “This seems like it would be something new and different.”
Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org