To be Coloradoan: Go up into the mountains to cut your own Christmas tree.
But I don’t want to cut down a piece of nature for my enjoyment?
I know where you are coming from. Really, I do. However, the trees need to be thinned out to reduce fire hazards and keep the forest healthy. You are taking an active part in managing the forest BY cutting down the trees. There are strict areas, that you need to stay within and you WILL have to adhere to strict cutting rules (please comply to keep Colorado pretty for everyone)
Why in the world would you want to go out into the cold, hike through the woods and cut your own Christmas tree that you then have to drag to your car or truck and tie it to your car? Does it sound like too much work for most likely an imperfect Christmas tree? The trees tend to be a bit or a lot lopsided, have empty spots and are just not as tight as the trees from the lot.
Family, Friends, Togetherness!
Forest health is important, by removing these smaller trees you are contributing to the overall well being of the forest and reducing fire danger.
When you go with small children
It has always been a family tradition and sometimes even a family adventure! When the kids where little we kept the tree hunt pretty short. If it was very cold the little ones would play in the snow only for a very short time. I would stay with them while Tim went to look for a tree for us. By the time he came back, I had all 3 of them cuddling under blankets in the back of the suburban truck sipping on hot cocoa and having cookies. The doors of the truck were open and they watched and maybe laughed at us parents as we loaded the tree onto the roof. Happily we packed up and drove home, singing Christmas songs.
When you go with teens
Especially once the kids were older we would go as a group with other friends and their kids at similar ages. As we were hiking through the woods the kids would have a fun time just being kids. Who would find the better Christmas tree? Bigger? Better? Hot cocoa was still a part of the event. Still singing on the way home.
The tree wasn’t perfect
I don’t think we ever had a PERFECT tree. In fact one year we stapled a few small branches from the bottom of the tree into some bare spots further up the tree. You gotta do what you gotta do. You know, it really didn’t matter. This was about us, the season and being together. Mission accomplished. Try it.
….your Christmas tree does not have to be perfect….
….you don’t mind taking your (hopefully 4 WD or AWD) vehicle through the backcountry. In fact you’ve always been looking for a reason to really put it to the test….
….you think you can weather almost any kind of weather….
….you like adventures….
…. you love Colorado and the outdoors….or would like to learn to like it :-)…
….you like some great family time….
….you want to make cutting your own a Christmas tree a tradition….
You really need to go get your permit and go.
Christmas Tree Hunting in the Pikes Peak Region
Most of my information in this post is about the Christmas Tree Program in the Pikes Peak Region. Find links to other regions in Colorado or in the Rocky Mountain Region at the bottom of this post.
Since the last time I posted (2012, 2015) about the Pikes Peak Regional Christmas Tree Program not much has changed:
- Pay $10 a permit
- Can get [only] up to 5 permits per person
- You can still get the permits as most US Forest Service offices in Colorado Springs this office is
- Pikes Peak Ranger District,
- 601 S. Weber St.,
- Colorado Springs, CO.
Call: 719-477-4221 or 636-1602
- Open 8am to 4.30pm
- Area Entry Hours: 8:30 am to 2:30 pm
- Cut trees no greater than 6 inches in diameter and as close to the ground as possible. Leave as little as possible of the tree. It looks like this:
- Permits are available starting November 28th thru December 16th.
- Permits will be available on site at the Woodland Park Middle School East parking lot on December 3 and 4, as well as December 10 and 11, from 8:30 am to 2:30 pm. CASH and CHECK ONLY!
- Note: On December 10, parking will be limited as Christmas tree sales will be located near the ballfield, in the upper gravel lot.
- Core Cutting Dates: December 05-13, 2015
- The permit has to be attached to the tree and be clearly visible.
Trees you can find
Cutting areas are along Rampart Range Road and to the east and north of Woodland Park. They are very well marked. Please only cut trees within these areas. Here is a map of the designated areas.
You will need 4 WD or chains are required! They have had quite a bit of snow so be prepared to really use those chains.
The evening and with that the cold starts early in the back country. Make sure you are done and heading out NLT 3pm.
- Your permit! ($5000 for cutting trees without a permit)
- Handsaw/ax and workgloves
- Dress warmly for winter weather
- Have a full tank of gas
- Bring food, extra water (hot cocoa), a shovel, a blanket, a first-aid kit and a warm drink
- Leave pets at home or have them on a leash at all times
- Take a rope or bungee cord and tarp to pack your tree home
- Don’t forget your ax or a saw. Chainsaws are not allowed – do not cut blue marked trees.
- Do not top trees!
- Pack out your trash!
- Before you go:
Once You Have The Tree At Home:
Create your own fire retardant solution for your tree.