Santa Fe National Forest Christmas Tree Permit

Santa Fe National Forest

This permit allows you to cut a Christmas Tree within designated areas of the Santa Fe 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.  

*This option will be available beginning on November 16, 2020. The cutting period for Christmas trees is November 16 – December 31 at sundown. 

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

The Santa Fe National Forest (5-inches in diameter and up to 10-feet-in-height) permit is valid for trees 5-inches in diameter and up to 10-feet-in-height.  

Trees taller than 10-feet require an additional permit. Which can be purchased in the same transaction. For example, if you want 15-foot tree, you need to purchase two permits. Trees larger than 5-inches in diameter and taller than 10-feet-in-height without two permits may be confiscated and the permit holder may be cited. The limit per household is 3 trees. 

Need to Know

Where to Cut Your Tree

Bring a copy of your Christmas Tree Permit with you when you go out to cut your tree.

Please respect the rights of the private landowners located adjacent to the National Forest boundaries—cut only if you are sure you are on National Forest lands and in designated cutting areas.

Do not cut in restricted areas:

• within all recreation camp areas;

• within 300 feet of streams and rivers;

• within 300 feet of paved roads;

• within designated Wilderness areas;

• all private land.

Selecting Your Tree

Forest Service Staff may be in the cutting areas to check permits and answer questions. They are not authorized to sell permits, so you should have a permit with you when you get to the area.

One permit is valid for trees 5-inches in diameter and up to 10-feet-in-height. Trees taller than 10-feet require an additional permit(s).

Stump diameter: 5 inches maximum 

Take the whole tree. Do not remove the top of the tree; cut down the entire tree. Cut trees as low to the ground as possible (do not leave stump more than 6-inches in height).

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

Planning Your Trip

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. Be sure your printed permit is easily visible to Forest officials checking for permits.

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.

Take any trash home with you and remove trimmings from the road to avoid damaging other vehicles.

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.

Cut the leftover branches from the stump and scatter them.

Photo Gallery