Due to impacts from wildfires, there have been many changes to available Christmas tree cutting opportunities.
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. No refunds will be issued.
Visit the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests’ Christmas tree page for more information.
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.
Tree cutting is prohibited within 75 feet of a stream, body of water, road, or trail.
Dogs must be on a leash.
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! Tree cutting is prohibited within 75 feet of a stream, body of water, road, or trail.
You cannot cut Christmas trees on the Boulder or Clear Creek Ranger Districts.
SUGGESTED AREAS FOR TREE CUTTING FOR THE CANYON LAKES DISTRICT: November 24 through January 7, 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 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.
SUGGESTED AREAS FOR TREE CUTTING FOR THE SULPHUR DISTRICT: Permits will be sold November 9th – January 7th. Cutting begins Nov. 10th. Permits are $20/each with a maximum of 5 permits per person. Christmas tree cutting is allowed throughout the district during that time, excluding the areas listed as “closed” below. If you plan to cut at Elk Creek Cutting Area, it will be open 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Dec. 2nd - 10th. The Sulphur Ranger District will staff the cutting area Dec. 2, 3, 9, & 10. Purchase your permit prior to arriving at the cutting area, permits are not available onsite.
AREAS CLOSED TO TREE CUTTING ON THE SULPHUR DISTRICT: The Fraser Experimental Forest, accessed by CR 73 (NFSR 160), Indian Peaks, Never Summer, Vasquez Peak and Byers Peak Wilderness Areas, Winter Park/Mary Jane Ski Areas & above to Berthoud Pass, James Peak Protection Area. The district has highlighted areas that allow for easier access and parking, and these are depicted in the attached maps.
Please purchase your permit through recreation.gov prior to arriving to the forest - there will be no onsite sales on the Canyon Lakes District. Permits can be purchased at the following locations in the Sulphur District: Winter Park Chamber, Fireside Market, Fraser Murdochs, Granby Country Ace Hardware, and Grand Lake Visitor Center during normal business hours.
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. Power saws including electric are prohibited.
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 and fires, 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.
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.
Pets must be leashed. Wildlife can cause negative inteaction with pets. You must pick up after your pet.
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.