As we approach December and all things associated with red and green, it’s time to especially start thinking about the green -- namely the Christmas tree.
If you’re thinking about cutting your own tree this year, get your plan and your permit NOW! It’s a very small window for cutting opportunities, especially on national and state forest lands.
Cutting your own Christmas tree can be an enjoyable experience for the entire family. Terms and conditions for cutting Christmas trees will be given to you when you purchase your permit.
Every Kid in a Park initiative is offering one free Christmas tree permit to fourth-graders who have a valid 4th Grade Interagency Pass. These free Christmas tree permits are only available at U.S. Forest Service District offices.
There are now five U.S. Forest Services sites along the Front Range that offer tree cutting throughout December. In some locations, there is a small window so don’t delay. In addition, the Creekside Nursery in Niwot offers an "almost" tree cutting experience that's a little closer to home.
Tree cutting is available from December 7-15. During the first two weekends of December, permits may be obtained at the cutting area. For weekday cutting, permits must be obtained in advance from the offices in Fort Collins at 2150 Centre Avenue, Building E. (closed Wednesdays). The District never runs out of permits! Permits are $20 per tree, cash only. Remember you must have at least one of the following types of vehicle: 4WD (not AWD) or traction devices. Snowmobiles and ATVs are not allowed. Please enter the cutting area between 8:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. People must leave the area by 4 p.m.
Taking a drive up to the Sulphur Ranger District to cut a tree has been a tradition for many Colorado families. Most everyone combines the tree cutting with other activities in the area whether it’s skiing, tubing or snowmobiling.
Your $20 permit allows you to cut a Christmas tree from designated areas on the Sulphur Ranger District now through January 6. Be sure to reference the map to ensure you are in a location where cutting is allowed. Most roads will be closed to motor vehicles after Nov. 20, but snowmobiles or skis may be used to access most areas. See a map of cutting areas within the Sulphur Ranger District .
Elk Creek Cutting Area:
Buy your permits in advance, $20 per tree. No permits will be available for purchase at the gates of the cutting area! Permits are available seven days a week at Murdoch's (Fraser), Grand Lake Chamber of Commerce, Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, Fireside Market & Eatery (Winter Park), and Granby Ace Hardware. The Granby district office will no longer be providing permits by mail.
This special cutting area is open for a short window: December 1-8. Roads will be plowed to allow one way traffic of motor vehicles equipped with four-wheel-drive or chained tires entry from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Snowmobiles and ATVs are not allowed in the cutting area. From Fraser, travel west on County Road 72 to the cutting area entrance.
Address: 320 Highway 285/ P.O. Box 219, Fairplay, CO 80440 (719) 836-2031
For a walk-in permit on November 18 or later, the office hours are:
Monday through Friday: 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Saturdays: (Nov. 30, Dec. 7, 14, and 21 only): 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Sundays: (Dec. 1 and 8 only): 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.
The office is closed on Thanksgiving Day.
Address: 601 S. Weber St., Colorado Springs, CO
Permit Sales: The Pikes Peak Ranger District will be offering Christmas tree permits from December 2nd through December 18th at the District Office from 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. The Pikes Peak Ranger District will not sell out of permits.
Woodland Park: Permits will be available on the weekend days of 12/7, 12/8, 12/14 and 12/15 at the Woodland Park Work Center, located at 1408 Rampart Range Road from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. (cash and check only on weekends).
Cost: Permits are $20 per tree, with a limit of 5 permits per person. No credit cards accepted on the weekend at the Woodland Park Work Center. All sales are final. No refunds.
Cutting Dates: Trees may be cut any time after purchase of permit through December 18th. REMEMBER TO ATTACH THE PERMIT TAG TO YOUR TREE AS YOU LOAD IT INTO YOUR VEHICLE. Be sure it is clearly visable as you leave the area.
Trees: Trees are of various species including: Douglas-fir, Lodgepole pine, Ponderosa pine, Engelmann spruce and Limber pine. The trees are native and are not as full (or formed as well) as trees grown on a plantation or those found in commercial lots. Be aware that many Douglas Fir trees have been damaged by Western Spruce Budworm.
Cutting Your Tree: Cut trees no greater than 6 inches in diameter and as close to the ground as possible. Remove the entire tree, PLEASE do not cut just the top of the trees.
Area: Trees may be cut on National Forest lands just northeast of Woodland Park along the Rampart Range Road, #300 and Northwest of Woodland Park on Forest Service Road 357. Please get a map when you purchase your permit. Signs will be posted.
Vehicles: Four-wheel drive vehicles or chains are required. Road accessibility will not be guaranteed. North end roads 325, 237, 348, 351, require 4-wheel drive and chains. When parking, you may only pull one vehicle length off the main road.
Prohibited: Chainsaws are not permitted; a handsaw will be adequate. The permittee is responsible for knowing public land boundaries. The area will be well signed.
Recommended: Cutters need to be prepared for winter weather. Allow up to four hours for your trip.
- Dress warmly for winter weather
- Have a full tank of gas
- Bring food, extra water, a shovel, a blanket, a first-aid kit and a warm drink
- Leave pets at home or have them on a leash at all times
- Take a rope and tarp to pack your tree home
Address: 30403 Kings Valley Drive, Suite 2-115, Conifer, CO 80433 (303-275-5610)
Permit Sales: Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Closed Federal holidays and weekends.
If you have not visited our new office, we are in the back of the King's Valley Marketplace. Use the upper parking lot to access our location. South Platte Ranger District Christmas tree cutting will occur in three locations: Buffalo Creek, Camp Fickes, and Sugar Creek. Camp Fickes locations are already sold out.
- Walk-in permits at Conifer office: Nov. 4-27
- Cutting dates: Nov. 2 -Dec. 15
Sold Out Dates: Please Note dates listed below take 12-24 hours to update. Visit the U.S. Forest Service Facebook page (U.S. Forest Service - PSICC National Forest) for real-time updates or call the South Platte Ranger District at (303) 275-5610.
- Camp Fickes - All Dates for Camp Fickes Have SOLD OUT
- Sugar Creek 11/29 - SOLD OUT
- Sugar Creek 11/30 - SOLD OUT
- Sugar Creek 12/1 - SOLD OUT
- Sugar Creek 12/7 - SOLD OUT
- Sugar Creek 12/8 - SOLD OUT
- Sugar Creek 12/14 - permits available
- Buffalo Creek 11/29 - SOLD OUT
- Buffalo Creek 11/30 - SOLD OUT
- Buffalo Creek 12/1 - SOLD OUT
- Buffalo Creek 12/7 - SOLD OUT
- Buffalo Creek 12/8 - permits available
- Buffalo Creek 12/14 - permits available
On-site permits are not available at cutting locations. Permits by advance purchase only.
Since many of the most popular fir tree varieties do not successfully grow in Colorado, they must be trucked-in from other states. Creekside Tree Nursery selects reputable growers in both North Carolina and Oregon for these non-Colorado grown trees. With that said, the nursery brings in pre-cut trees to “plant” into our growing fields solely for the “experience” of cutting them down. If you were to dig the trees up, you are correct, there would not be a root ball as they are not “growing” there; however, they are still freshly cut and will survive well through Christmas.
So some may wonder “what’s the point?” if it’s technically already cut? Well, because it’s fun, it’s closer than driving to the mountains, it’s still a “green” experience because for each tree cut a few more are planted in their place and you’ll enjoy a premium fir tree in your home.
“Cut your own tree experience” includes selecting the following firs: Fraser, Noble, Nordman, Douglas, Balsam, Grand, Canaan or Concolor, or Scotch or White pines. Prices range from $60-$500. Open November 29-December 23. Hours are Monday-Friday, 1-7 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-7 p.m. and Sunday, 12-7 p.m. Creekside Tree Nursery offers all the following:
A knowledgeable staff that is eager to help you pick the most wonderful Christmas Tree.
Premium wrapping/netting to help you move your tree around with ease.
They can fresh cut your tree for you.
Monday through Thursday they offer professional loading by our sensational staff (not available on weekends). If you are in need of loading please visit them on the weekdays and we will be happy to help.
Free hot chocolate, tea and candy canes while you wait (supplies may vary).
Christmas lights, music, and decorations inside and out. Come at night and you can really enjoy the experience.
(Editor's note: This blog was originally published in November of 2018. It has been updated to provide current information).