It's a time-honored Christmas tradition that will give you ultimate bragging rights — cutting down your own tree. But if you are going to channel your inner lumberjack, you'll need a permit first. National Forest permits are $20 this year and can be purchased in several area districts.
Permit sales began in early November for the South Platte Ranger District, one of the nearest tree-cutting areas for Denver residents. Sales will continue through Nov. 21, and tree-cutting begins Nov. 23. Permits are available for the Buffalo Creek and Camp Fickes areas.
The South Park Ranger District will offer Christmas tree permits starting Nov. 19 at the office in Fairplay.
Another option near the metro is Golden Gate Canyon State Park, though Colorado Parks and Wildlife said it had sold out of its permits for tree-cutting on Dec. 1 in just one day.
If you are willing to travel a little farther, the Pikes Peak Ranger District near Colorado Springs will have permits available beginning Nov. 27.
In the San Isabel National Forest, the Leadville Ranger District will sell permits for $10 each beginning Nov. 19.
In the Arapahoe and Roosevelt National Forests, permits have been available since early November. Cut-your-own-tree events will happen at Red Feather Lakes Dec. 1-9, and the Elk Creek Cutting Areas near Fraser and Winter Park from Dec. 1-8.
Permits are also available for designated national forest areas on the Sulphur Ranger District near Grand Lake, Hot Sulphur Springs, and Granby.
There are several rules and suggestions to follow if you are going to cut down your own Christmas tree:
- Cut trees no greater than six inches in diameter and as close to the ground as possible
- Make sure you have an appropriate vehicle. Four-wheel drive or chains may be required
- Bring a handsaw or ax, since chainsaws are prohibited
- Dress appropriately for winter weather
- Bring extra food, water, blankets and a first-aid kit
- Bring a rope and tarp to pack your tree
- Look for a tree that's close to other trees to help with forest thinning
Click here for a map of tree cutting areas around the state.