November 16, 2018 0

A 2018 Guide for Cutting Your Own Christmas Tree in Colorado

Did you know that by cutting your own Christmas tree (or Hanukah bush or Festivus pole) you‘re actually helping with forest management? Thinning forests lets sunlight reach deeper into the canopy, encouraging new, more diverse growth and reducing competition for nutrients. Nature has its own ways—fire and disease, among them—but there are less disastrous means as well. They include responsible harvesting of timber, controlled burns…and cutting your own tree for the holidays.

Cutting your own tree can be a fun family outing as long as you keep it safe and legal. Here’s how:

Keeping It Legal

In keeping with good management practices, the Forest Service limits the places cutting is allowed and the number of trees that can be taken. It’s not free, either.

Christmas tree cutting permits are generally available from most US Forest Service offices throughout the Rocky Mountain Region. Permits range from $5-$20 per tree and sell out fast, especially in areas close to Denver and Colorado Springs. Check the links below to verify when Christmas tree cutting permits are available, get driving directions, and learn cutting regulations.

See the Forest Service’s Regional Christmas Tree Program web page for more details.

There are also some private nurseries and tree farms that let customers pick out live trees, and some may let you cut them yourself. They may even have added attractions like sleigh rides, Santa visits, and reindeer.

Keep It Safe and Easy

National forests seldom have paved roads. Many require 4-wheel drive or chains, and the interior roads aren’t normally plowed. Dress for both the work and the weather. Winter storms can be unpredictable.

Chain saws aren’t allowed in national forests but cutting is restricted to trunks 6 inches in diameter, so a good bow saw should work fine.

Other recommendations include:

  • Have a full tank of gas. You’re probably miles from a service station.
  • Bring food, extra water, a shovel, a blanket, a first-aid kit and a warm drink. You may be there longer than you think.
  • Leave pets at home or have them on a leash at all times
  • Take a tarp and plenty of strong rope to pack your tree home and secure it well. Trees aren’t that aerodynamic and can present a real hazard to you, your vehicle, and other drivers if they take flight at 70 mph.

And most of all, have fun whatever you do.


The folks at Donovan Arborists wish you and yours a happy and safe holiday season and remind you that now is the time to get your trees and shrubs ready for winter and holiday decorating. We offer complete pruning and shearing services for Denver-area landscapes, and we’re happy to give free estimates to homeowners and property managers for any services they may need.

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