Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests Christmas Tree Permit

Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests Pawnee Ng

Due to impacts from wildfires, there have been many changes to available Christmas Tree cutting opportunities.  

The Canyon Lakes Ranger District is under a fire restriction, so warming fires are not allowed during Christmas tree cutting.

Please be sure to read all the regulations and tips prior to setting out on your Christmas Tree harvesting adventure. Plan to cut your Christmas tree on a weekday to avoid weekend crowding. 

Visit the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests’ Christmas tree page for more information.

Need to Know

Selecting Your Tree

Cut stump at ground level. If snow is on the ground, remove it from around the stump so you can accurately measure the stump and tree height.

Take the whole tree. Do not remove the top of the tree (no “topping” of trees). Cut down the entire tree at ground level.

Some people choose a Christmas tree from a densely forested area to give the remaining trees more space to grow.”

Scatter the leftover branches from the stump and scatter them or take them home.

Permits must be displayed and easily visible on the tree for easy viewing or visible on your vehicle dashboard.

Pack out all trash.

You must be at least 50 feet away from a stream or body of water in both districts and at least 75 feet away from a road in the Sulphur cutting areas.

Where to Cut Your Tree

Download and print your Christmas tree cutting map from recreation.gov. Printed maps are not available on the Forest.

Cut trees only within the National Forest boundary. No trespassing on private property. Respect private land!

You cannot cut Christmas trees on the Boulder or Clear Creek Ranger Districts.

SUGGESTED AREAS FOR CHRISTMAS TREE CUTTING FOR THE SULPHUR DISTRICT: The Elk Creek cutting area will be open December 4 - 12, 2021. You may access other areas on the district. Port-a-potties will only be available through the Elk Creek cutting area. Please refer to the maps for locations.

AREAS CLOSED TO CHRISTMAS TREE CUTTING IN THE SULPHUR DISTRICT: The Fraser Experimental Forest, all Wilderness areas, within 1/4 mile of any highway, within 75 feet of any road, trail, and all bodies of water, the Winter Park/Mary Jane Ski Areas & above to Berthoud Pass, the James Peak Protection Area, developed recreation areas. No cutting within fire closure areas.

SUGGESTED AREAS FOR CHRISTMAS TREE CUTTING FOR THE CANYON LAKES DISTRICT: Joe Wright Reservoir (off of Highway 14), Swamp Creek (walk in only - access from Manhattan Road), National Forest areas along Manhattan Road. The district is open to cutting at your own risk with exceptions displayed on the map. Port-a-potties are NOT available. Please use open bathrooms along your travel routes.

AREAS CLOSED TO CHRISTMAS TREE CUTTING ON THE CANYON LAKES DISTRICT: Please refer to the map for areas closed to tree cutting. Do not cut trees on private land. No tree cutting in campgrounds or picnic areas. No tree cutting in Wilderness areas (Cache La Poudre, Comanche Peak, Neota, Rawah). No tree cutting in active timber sale areas, or in other areas marked on the map. 

Please purchase your permit through recreation.gov - permits will not be sold on-site this year due to COVID-19. 

Planning Your Trip

Helpful Cutting Tips

Tools to bring include: a measuring tape to measure your tree stump height and diameter and to ensure it will fit in your home; handsaw to cut your tree; gloves and boots; a tarp to wrap your tree for transport; and rope or straps to secure your tree to your vehicle.

Carry your tree carefully out of the woods or place it on a tarp or sled to drag it. You can snowshoe, walk, ski, or snowmobile into areas that you can't access by driving to retrieve a tree.

If the tree is too big to transport inside of your vehicle, wrap it in a tarp to prevent wind damage. 

Once home, cut the bottom of the trunk off and place the freshly cut trunk in a bucket of water.

If you will be storing your tree outside temporarily, keep it in an area protected from the wind.

Due to the recent mountain pine beetle epidemic, before you head into the forest to cut your Christmas tree: Look up, look down, look around! Avoid standing dead trees. Stay out of recently burned areas. Be aware that trees can fall at any time and use extra caution on windy days. 

Please use caution due to recent wildfires.

How to Plan Your Trip

Cell service is spotty or unavailable. Be sure someone knows where you are and when to expect you back. Check the latest weather conditions, forest warnings, and road closures before you leave on your trip. Bring a map with you. Don’t rely on GPS because it may not be up-to-date with forest service roads and National Forest boundaries. Dress warmly with layers, waterproof clothing, hats, gloves, and take extra dry clothes. Be aware that tree cutting overlaps with hunting seasons. Expect winter weather, including cold temperatures, snow and winds. Bring plenty of food and water with you as well as an overnight survival kit in case you become stranded. It is always better to travel with someone and not to go alone.

Roads may not be plowed. Four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive are recommended. Carry tire chains, a shovel, and a tow chain. Be sure your vehicle has a full tank of gas. Bring a spare key and give it to someone else in your party. Don’t get locked out of your car! Park in areas so that traffic can safely pass, and do not block gates.

Start your day early. Be sure to find your tree and leave the woods before dark. 

Be aware of logging trucks that are using the roads.

Download Avenza prior to your trip. The QR codes listed on the map will connect your map with Avenza and is a good point of reference.

Photo Gallery