San Juan National Forest Christmas Tree Permit

San Juan National Forest

This permit allows you to cut a Christmas Tree within designated areas of the San Juan National Forest! Lifelong memories are built during these special times and we are happy to help with any information gathering you'll need to make this trip a safe and enjoyable one. 

Please be sure to read and agree to all the tips and guidelines when selecting your tree.

Notifications and Alerts

Need to Know

Selecting Your Tree

Each forest has limitations on the size of the tree you can cut and the species of trees that are permitted. See below to help you measure and choose a tree that meets your permit's guidelines. 

Cut these trees: White Fir, Subalpine Fir, Spruce

Do NOT cut these trees: Ponderosa Pine, Douglas Fir, Pinyon Pine

Tree Height: 20 feet maximum

Stump height: 6 inches maximum

Take the whole tree. Do not remove the top of the tree; cut down the entire tree

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

Cut the leftover branches from the stump and scatter them.

Where to Cut Your Tree

Do not cut in active timber sales or areas that have been planted with new trees. 

Do not cut trees within all designated wilderness areas, wilderness study areas, special recreation areas, or research natural areas

Do not cut trees within 100 feet of campgrounds, private lands, and administrative sites

Do not cut trees within 100 feet of county roads or state or federal highways

Do not cut trees in La Plata Canyon near Durango

Near Cortez-Dolores, do not cut trees in these areas: Sage Hen Wildlife Area, McPhee and Lone Dome Recreation Areas from McPhee Dam to Bradfield Bridge, and Narraguinnep Research Natural Area; Within 1/4 mile of West Mancos Road (FS#561) between the Forest boundary and Transfer Campground.

If you have questions, please call us during business hours: Monday - Friday 8:00 - 4:30.

Durango 970-247-4874; Bayfield 970-884-2512; Pagosa 970-264-2268; Dolores 970-882-7296

Planning Your Trip

Helpful Cutting Tips

Carry your tree carefully out of the woods. Dragging the tree will rub off needles and bark. 

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

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

If storing your tree outside for a few days before putting it in the house, keep it in an area protected from the wind, such as the north or east side of your house or under a shaded tree.

Tools you might want to consider bringing with you include a measuring tape to ensure you select a tree that fits in your home; handsaw to cut your tree; gloves to protect your hands; boots to protect your feet; a tarp to sit on and/or to move your tree once it's cut; and rope or straps to secure your tree to your vehicle.

Choose a tree from a dense forested area, which will give the remaining trees more space to grow.

How to Plan Your Trip

Before you leave home, be sure to measure the space where you plan to place the tree in your home (height and width), and measure the space in your vehicle where you will be transporting the tree.

Cell service may be 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. Dress warmly and take extra dry clothes. 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. Start your day early. Be sure to find your tree and leave the woods before dark.

Roads may not be plowed. Carry tire chains, shovel(s) 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 get by safely, and do not block gates.

We don't recommend bringing your pets but, if you do, they must be on a leash.

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