Cutting Your Own Holiday Tree? Here’s What You Need to Know
Cutting your own Christmas tree (or Hanukah bush or Festivus pole) can be a fun family outing as long as you keep it safe and legal. Here’s how:
Limited Trees for Cutting in Colorado
You may think that Colorado’s untold millions of evergreens make for prime cutting. Not so much, it turns out.
It’s a jungle out there, and trees in natural forests are constantly fighting the elements, the soils, and each other. That leads to tall, wispy trees compared to plantation-grown selections. Besides that, the Forest Service limits the places cutting is allowed and the number of trees that can be taken. It’s not free, either.
Where to Get Christmas Tree Cutting Permits
Christmas tree cutting permits are generally available from most USForest Service offices throughout the Rocky Mountain Region. Permits are $10 per tree and sell out fast, especially in areas close to Denver. Check the links below to verify when Christmas tree cutting permits are available, get driving directions, and learn cutting regulations.
- 2016 South Platte Ranger District - cutting areas in Buffalo Creek and Camp Fikes
- Pikes Peak Ranger District - cutting area in Woodland Park near Colorado Springs
- Salida and Leadville Ranger Districts
- San Carlos Ranger District
- South Park Ranger District - cutting area around Fairplay and Lake George
See theForest 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.
Recommendations for Cutting Your Own Tree
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!
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.