There are still traditionalists who prefers the smell of fresh pine over pulling a tree out of a box during the Christmas season.

Sure, you could just go pick one out at a nearby tree lot. It’s convenient and easy, but the selection can be limited and the trees are often not as fresh and healthy.

But if you want to break out your inner Griswold, there are a lot of places in Colorado where you can cut down your own Christmas tree.

How it works

There are five primary Forest Service cutting areas in the state. For each one, you’ll need to purchase a permit for $10 before you cut down a tree.

Each regulates their district a little differently.

Fraser/Winter Park

Permit Sales: Permits are available at Sulphur Ranger stations and must be bought in advance.

Dates: November 1 – January 6

Other: There’s a special cutting area near Elk Creek that is only open from December 2 through December 9. You can buy permits for this at the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, Grand Lake Chamber of Commerce, Granby Ace Hardware and Murdoch’s.


Cutting area map:

Red Feather Lakes

Permit Sales: Permits are available at forest service offices in Fort Collins or Ault or on site at the cutting areas on weekends.

Dates: December 2 – 10

Other: Trees marked with blue paint are not allowed to be cut. Snowmobiles and ATVs are prohibited in the Red Feather Lakes area. Smokey Bear is also typically on site to great tree cutters on weekends!


Cutting area map:

South Park

Permit Sales: Permits are available at the Fairplay District Office. You can also mail a form and check to the ranger office and your permit will be mailed to you.

Dates: November 23 – December 24

Other: Trees marked with paint are not allowed to be cut. Maps for the tree cutting area will be provided with the permit.


Cutting area map: Provided with permit

Buffalo Creek

Permit Sales: Permits are only available at the South Platte Ranger District office and you must specify what day you will use the permit at the time of purchase.

Dates: November 24 – December 7

Other: Permits can only be used on the specified day. If for some reason you can’t use your permit on the day you originally bought it for, Sunday, December 14 will be open as a ‘make-up’ day for unused permits. Axes are not allowed in Buffalo Creek. Starting in 2018, all permits will be issued through the mail only.


Cutting area map:

Rampart Range

Permit Sales: Permits are available at the Pikes Peak Ranger District office or at the Woodland Park middle school on December 2, 3, 9 and 10.

Dates: November 27 – December 15

Other: Be aware that many Douglas Fir trees have been damaged by Western Spruce Budworm.



  • Tree trunks must be six inches or less in diameter
  • You must leave less than six inches from the ground to your cut
  • Chainsaws are not allowed
  • Permits must me clearly attached to the tree
  • Either four-wheel drive or chains are required

What to bring

  • This list is what the Forest Service recommends you bring to be prepared:
  • Handsaw or ax
  • Winter clothing
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses
  • Water, warm drinks and snacks
  • Sled for pulling tree
  • Straps, cord, tarp and work gloves
  • Straps, strong cord, tarp and work gloves for loading tree on vehicle
  • Vehicle safety kit: shovel, blanket, first aid kit
  • Full tank of gas
  • Chains, if you don’t have four-wheel drive