Christmas tree convoy (copy)

Vehicles carrying freshly cut Christmas trees head down from the Rampart Range tree-cutting in Dec. 2018.

Photos by Jerilee Bennett

The holidays and nature come together every year in Colorado as beautiful flakes fall around the state. From riding the snowy slopes of 14,000-foot mountain peaks to tracking down the perfect Christmas tree in a national forest, Colorado has great potential for forming many wonderful holiday traditions. Kick up the holiday spirit this season by cutting down your own Christmas tree at any one of these permitted destinations throughout the state during the 2019-20 holiday season. Rules and regulations apply.

Cutting down trees helps keep the forests healthy in Colorado. According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Christmas tree cutters help to reduce the impacts of future wildfires by thinning overcrowded and dense vegetation. Just remember to follow Christmas tree permit rules, check the weather forecast before you go, and most importantly, Leave No Trace.

1. Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland

Find the perfect tree at the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland (ARP) located in north-central Colorado from November 1 to January 6. Dates vary by cutting areas including the Sulphur Ranger District (Nov 1, 2019 – Jan 6, 2020), Elk Creek (Dec 1 – 8, 2019) and Red Feather special cutting area (Dec 7 – 15, 2019). Tree species you’re likely to see in this national forest include Engelmann spruce, Douglas-fir, Subalpine fir, and Ponderosa pine. The maximum tree diameter you are allowed to cut is six inches at the base, with the maximum stump height of 6 inches from the ground. Please note, Christmas tree cutting is prohibited in the Boulder or Clear Creek Ranger Districts. Christmas tree permits are $20.00 each. Get the details here.

2. Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests

Christmas tree permits are available for $8.00 at Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forests office locations now through December 31, 2019. This western gem covering nearly 3 million acres of public land features some of the state’s most spectacular natural wonders including the 355-foot-high Bridal Veil Falls and one of the world’s largest flat-top mountains with over 300 lakes. While Christmas cutting is allowed in most areas, some exceptions may apply including scenic pullouts, commercial timber sales areas, recreation and ski areas, campgrounds, trailheads, developed sites, administrative areas, and any other restrictions set forth in your permit. Trees must be less than 20 feet tall from the stump, with a maximum diameter of 6 inches at the base and the maximum stump height of 6 inches high. For more details, click here.

3. The Pike National Forest

Add Christmas trees cutting in the Pikes Peak region to your Colorado bucket list. Twenty dollar Christmas tree cutting permits will be available from December 2 through December 18, 2019 at the Pikes Peak Ranger District office located at 601 South Weber Street in Colorado Springs. Office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Discover various species on your quest to find the perfect tree including Douglas-fir, Lodgepole pine, Ponderosa pine, Engelmann spruce, and Limber pine. Tree cutting permits will also be available in Woodland Park on four weekend days, including December 7, 8, 14, and 15 between the hours of 8:00 AM and 3:00 PM at the Forest Service’s Woodland Park Work Center located at 1408 Rampart Range Road. Cash or check only. Get all the details here.

4. San Isabel National Forests

Soak up the mountain magic with Christmas tree cutting throughout the San Isabel National Forests running from November 25 to December 24, 2019. Tree species include Douglas-fir, lodge pole pine, Engelmann spruce, subalpine fir, white fir, ponderosa pine, piñon pine, and Rocky Mountain juniper. Ten dollar Christmas tree permits can be purchased at any San Isabel National Forest Office in Pueblo, Canon City, Salida, or Leadville. There is a 2 tree-limit per household. No cutting at campgrounds, trailheads, ski areas, wilderness areas, and recreation areas. Permitted cutting lengths apply. For more details, click here.

5. Rio Grande National Forest

Embrace your inner lumberjack by chopping down your very own Christmas tree from the Rio Grande National Forest. Get tree tags at any Rio Grande National Forest office location between 8 AM and 4:30 PM, Monday through Friday until permits are gone. Christmas tree permits are only $8 each with a limit of 5 per family. Tree trunks are allowed to be up to 5 inches in diameter at shoulder height. Get all the info here.

6. White River National Forest

Decorate your home with a real Christmas tree straight from the White River National Forest, spanning areas in Dillon, Rifle, Vail, and Aspen. Get ready to embark on a scenic adventure after purchasing your $10 Christmas tree permit at any White River National Forest office now through Friday, December 22, 2019. For more details, click here.

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