Pike and San Isabel National Forest Christmas Tree Permit


Whether this is your first time cutting your own Christmas tree or it's been a family tradition for generations, it is a special experience that creates lifelong memories! This permit allows you to cut a Christmas Tree within designated areas of the Pike & San Isabel National Forests.  

Please take the time to read the following information:

Permits are only valid on the district for which they were purchased. Permits are not transferable nor may they be extended from one year to the next.

Please print your Christmas tree permit and make sure you have it with you. 

The South Platte Ranger District is closest to Denver. Permits in this district apply to specific cutting areas (Buffalo Creek, Sugar Creek, and Camp Fickes) within limited date ranges and may sell out. The first cutting day is the Friday after Thanksgiving. The last cutting day is typically the second Sunday of December. Permits are not sold for this day as it is considered a make-up day. If you purchased and are unable to use a Buffalo Creek permit on your scheduled day, you may use it on this day.

The Pikes Peak Ranger District is closest to Colorado Springs with specific cutting areas near Woodland Park. Permits go on sale November 24th with cutting allowed through December 17th. There is not a quota, so permits will not sell out.

The South Park Ranger District is closest to the towns of Fairplay, Jefferson, Como, and Lake George. Most of the district is open for cutting and there is not a quota, so permits will not sell out. Cutting is allowed between October 12 and December 31.

The Salida Ranger District is closest to the towns of Salida and Buena Vista. Most of the district is open for cutting. There is not a quota, so permits will not sell out. Permits go on sale Nov. 20 and cutting is permitted through Dec. 31.

The Leadville Ranger District is closest to the town if Leadville. Most of the district is open for cutting. There is not a quota, so permits will not sell out. Permits go on sale Nov. 20 and cutting is permitted through Dec. 31.

The San Carlos Ranger District is closest to the towns of Canon City, Westcliffe, and La Veta. Most of the district is open for cutting. There is not a quota, so permits will not sell out. Permits go on sale Nov. 20 and cutting is permitted through Dec. 31.

Need to Know

Selecting Your Tree

You may cut a tree up to 15 feet tall or 6 inches in diameter at ground level.

Any species of tree may be cut, however cutting Bristlecone Pine is not recommended. This is due to their sappy nature, which is both messy and can be a fire hazard.

If snow is on the ground, remove it from around the stump so you can accurately measure the stump and ground level. Trees must be cut within 6 inches of the ground. 

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

Take the whole tree. Do not remove the top of the tree; cut down and utilize the entire tree and don't leave a high stump.

Where to Cut Your Tree

Do not cut on private land, in Wilderness areas, designated campgrounds, or existing tree plantations. 

Do not cut trees in or within 200 feet of any developed areas, including Campgrounds, Picnic Areas, Recreation Areas, Trailheads, Scenic Overlooks and Administrative Sites.

Christmas tree cutting is prohibited in Timber Sale areas. Do not cut any tree marked with colored paint, flagging or signs.

Do not cut trees within 100 feet of any waterway, forest road or trail.

Maps showing public and private land boundaries are available online and at district offices. 

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 inch or so of the trunk off and place the freshly cut trunk in a bucket of water. Do not let it dry out. 

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

Tools to bring with you include; a handsaw to cut your tree, gloves to protect your hands, warm boots, a measuring tape to ensure you select a tree that fits in your home, 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.

Cut stump at ground level. Cut any live branches off of the stump, and cut off and scatter any dead branches on the lower portion of the tree.

How to Plan Your Trip

Be aware of seasonal road closures. Annual closures that take effect December 1st include: Lodgepole Flats near Leadville, the Four Mile travel management area near Buena Vista, and the Greenhorn area near Westcliffe. 

Bring a hand saw. No chainsaws or power saws are allowed.

Cell service may be spotty or unavailable. Bring a map and tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return. Don't rely on GPS because it may not be up-to-date with Forest Service roads and batteries die quickly in cold weather.

Check the latest weather conditions, forest warnings and road closures before you leave on your trip.

Dress warmly and take extra dry clothes. Expect winter weather, including cold temperatures, snow and winds.

Forest roads may not be plowed. A four-wheel drive vehicle or tire chains may be needed to access some areas. Skis or snowshoes may also be used. Please use caution on icy and snowy roads and do not cause damage by creating ruts on muddy roads. 

Bring plenty of food and water with you, as well as an overnight survival kit in case you become stranded.

Park in areas so that traffic can get by safely, and do not block gates.

Pets are welcome, but must be under control at all times.

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