COLORADO, USA — Does having a live Christmas tree put you in the holiday spirit?

There are several places in Colorado where you can buy a permit to venture into the forest to pick out the very best tree and saw it down yourself. 

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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 its district a little differently.

Fraser/Winter Park

Permit Sales: Permits are available online by clicking here, at the Sulphur Ranger District Office in Granby, the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, Country Ace Hardware in Granby, Murdoch's in Fraser and Fireside Market in Winter Park. All permits must be bought in advance.

Dates: Nov. 1–Jan. 6

Other: There’s a special cutting area near Elk Creek that is only open from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Dec. 1-8  You can buy permits for this at the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, Grand Lake Chamber of Commerce, Granby Ace Hardware and Murdoch’s.


Cutting area map:

Red Feather Lakes

Permit Sales: Permits are available online by clicking here, at the cutting area during the first two full weekends in December or at the Canyon Lakes Ranger District Office in Fort Collins beginning Nov. 25.

Dates: Dec. 7-15

Other: Trees marked with blue paint are not allowed to be cut. Snowmobiles and ATVs are prohibited in the Red Feather Lakes area. Entry is allowed between 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and everyone must be out of the cutting area by 4 p.m. Smokey Bear is also typically on site to greet tree cutters on weekends!


Cutting area map:

South Park

Permit Sales: Those wanting a permit can mail a form and check to the South Park District ranger office and your permit will be mailed to you beginning Nov. 18. Permits are also available at the South Park Ranger District office in Fairplay after Nov. 18. 

Dates: Nov. 18–Dec. 24

Other: Trees marked with paint are not allowed to be cut. There is private land within the boundary. Be sure the tree you are cutting is in National Forest Service property. Paper maps of the South Park Ranger District are available for $14. Mobile-friendly maps are $5.


Recommended cutting area maps:

Buffalo Creek

Permit Sales: Permits for the Buffalo Creek, Camp Fikes and the new Sugar Creek area are available at the South Platte Ranger District office in Conifer until Nov. 27 or all permits sell 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: Nov. 29–Dec. 15

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 week of Dec. 2-6, Dec. 9-13 and on Sunday, Dec. 15. Smokey Bear plans on being in the Buffalo Creek area to take pictures with tree cutters as often as his schedule allows.


Cutting area map:

Rampart Range

Permit Sales: Permits are available at the Pikes Peak Ranger District office or at the Woodland Park Work Center on Dec. 7-8 and Dec. 14-15.

Dates: Dec. 2-18

Other: Be aware that many Douglas Fir trees have been damaged by Western Spruce Budworm. Maps for the tree cutting area will be provided with the permit and there are signs to help guide tree cutters to the correct areas.


Cutting area map: Provided with permit

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  • 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

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