Cutting Your Own Christmas Tree in Colorado

It’s actually possible to make cutting down your own Christmas tree a family tradition as it is an exciting experience. Colorado is one of the best places to find dense forests of pine trees. Christmas trees come in all sizes, shapes, and types. Get your family into the Christmas mood early by heading out to Colorado mountains to find and cut down a tree that will always have a special meaning.

The following article will give you a few simple guidelines you should make use of when heading out to the mountains. It comprises of what you need to carry and the direction on where to get the best tree.

Rules and regulations

It is vital that you adhere the rules stated in the Forest Service Act when cutting down your tree. When out for this family adventure, it could be disappointing if you come across a Forest Ranger who confiscates your tree because it is too small or even issues you a citation for not following the rules.

First and foremost, you have to get a permit from the local Forest Ranger’s office that allows you to cut a tree. It is easy to locate this kind of office when you are driving to Colorado.

If you are driving from Denver using interstate 70, you can get one at Dillion Ranger District Office. When using Highway 285, you can find the South Park Ranger District Office located at Fairplay.

The cost of one permit is ten dollars where they are sold after Thanksgiving day. The rules and regulations that are to be followed when cutting a Christmas tree are written down on the permit. You are also given a tag to attach to the tree you cut down. The tag is to measure the diameter of the tree you cut. This ensures that you have a standard tree which is not too small or huge.

What to carry

It is vital that you pack appropriately for your tree cutting exercise. Having the right tools and equipment will give you and your family the best experience. I personally make a point of carrying a thermos of hot chocolate. It is an excellent way to keep the kids entertained as the adults handle the hard work.

Below is a list of what you need. Be sure to pack all the items listed to make the task of cutting the tree much more enjoyable.

Leather or winter gloves will keep your hands safe from the needles in the trees. They will also prevent you from getting the sticky substance from trees on your hands. Additionally, wear clothes that have long sleeves to keep you warm and from being scratched by the tree as you cut it down.

Saw or Axe

A bow saw is the type of saw you want to use when cutting a Christmas tree. It is much easier to use and does not require much effort. However, an axe can serve the same purpose though not as efficient as a saw. But do yourself a favor and spend $20-$30 to get the best bow saw your local Home Depot or Lowes carries.


To get the tree out of the forest, dragging it is usually the best option. Drag it from the base so that you do not destroy the branches. Dragging in snow is easier since pine trees slide on it pretty smoothly.


Carry your permit. You need to attach it to your tree after you cut it down.

Snow Boots

Since it is winter season, you need waterproofing when walking on snow. This will keep your feet dry and warm. Snow gaiters are the best shoes for this type of activity. You may even wish to wear cross-country skis when heading out to cut your Christmas tree. But snow boots for the entire family are always the best option.

Warm Clothes

Usually, people think that they are going to find a tree quickly. This is not the case; I find myself taking more time trying to find the perfect tree. Therefore, dress warmly in preparation for the cold weather.

Where to go

The mountains of Colorado are vast. There are many places in which you can find your Christmas tree. Summit County offers some of the best locations to get a tree. There are some areas in which you are not allowed to cut down trees. Therefore, gather enough information from the Forest Service regarding such areas before you begin your journey into the forest.

You can also make use of the maps you are provided with to identify these areas. Breckenridge, which is along Boreas Pass, is one of my favorite places to cut down a Christmas tree. The Boreas Pass is quite popular and easy to hike. However, if you are planning on getting your tree from Silverthorne and Dillon, it is advisable that you find an area off Highway 9 or the Salt Lick Trailhead.

What to look for

Finding the right tree is not an easy task, but you can make it easier by knowing what you want. Some of the tips I use include, deciding where the tree will be placed in the house and measuring the height from the floor to the ceiling. If you plan on positioning the tree in a corner, you only need to find one that is full on two sides. It is difficult to find a tree that is full on all sides which is why the positioning of the tree in the house is an essential factor.

The other important tip is to cut a tree at a slightly higher height than you think you need. You can always cut off the extra length when you get home. Longer branches can be trimmed off the tree to give it the perfect shape and size.

When looking for a Christmas tree, there are a few details you need to consider. The Lodgepole and Ponderosa pine trees do not allow you to decorate with heavy ornaments due to their long branches. On the other hand, Spruce and Fir trees have shorter needles and branches which are great for hanging decorations. From these characteristics, I would recommend that you get either a Fir or Spruce tree.

Create Memories

Once you have cut down your tree and taken it home, you should prepare to trim it into the perfect shape. Cut off the base if it is longer than needed to give it the perfect height. Chop of the extra branches at the bottom of the tree to provide you with space to place your presents. It is also crucial that you water it regularly to ensure that it does not dry out. The first couple days, it will use up water like a sponge see keep an out on the water level in the tree base.

The final step is to decorate the tree. Usually, my family and I cut out a disc from the bottom of the tree. We write the most memorable moments of that year using a permanent marker. After that, we drill a small hole into the disc and hang it as an ornament on the Christmas tree. It’s fun to look back at all the previous years’ discs.

You too can create memories with your family once you harvest a Christmas tree from the beautiful mountains of Colorado.