KUSA — There are still traditionalists who prefer 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.
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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 $20 before you cut down a tree.
Each regulates their district a little differently.
Permit Sales: Permits are available at the Sulphur Ranger District Office, the Grand Lake Chamber of Commerce, the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, Country Ace Hardware in Agate, Murdoch's in Fraser and Fireside Market in Winter Park. All permits 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 1 through December 8. You can buy permits for this at the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, Grand Lake Chamber of Commerce, Granby Ace Hardware and Murdoch’s.
Red Feather Lakes
Permit Sales: Permits are available at forest service offices in Fort Collins or on-site at the cutting areas on weekends.
Dates: December 1 – 9
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: http://bit.ly/2Bp6MXb
Permit Sales: Permits are available at the Fairplay District Office or at the Woodland Park Work Center over two weekends: Dec. 1-2 and Dec. 8-9. You can also mail a form and check to the ranger office and your permit will be mailed to you.
Dates: November 19 – 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
Permit Sales: Permits for both Buffalo Creek and the new Camp Fikes area are only available at the South Platte Ranger District office between November 5 and November 21 or until they are sold out. If you want to cut down your tree on a weekend, you must specify what day you will use the permit at the time of purchase. If you're planning to go cutting on a weekday, you don't need to specify a date.
Dates: November 23 – December 9
Other: Weekend 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, any permit can be used during the weeks of Nov. 26 - Nov. 30, Dec. 3 - Dec. 7 or on Sunday, Dec. 9. Four-wheel drive is required in the Camp Fikes cutting area. Smokey bear plans on being in the area to take pictures with tree cutters as often as his schedule allows.
Cutting area map: http://bit.ly/2nf5ewV
Permit Sales: Permits are available at the Pikes Peak Ranger District office or at the Woodland Park Work Center on December 1, 2, 8 and 9.
Dates: November 26 – December 14
Other: Be aware that many Douglas Fir trees have been damaged by Western Spruce Budworm. aps for the tree cutting area will be provided with the permit.
Cutting area map: Provided with permit
- 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 be 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