Establishing family traditions, especially around the holidays, is one of my favorite things about being a mom and having a sweet family. There is something so special about knowing my children will remember these moments for decades to come, and they may even pass our traditions on to their families someday. Our absolute favorite tradition is to cut our own Christmas tree in Pike National Forest.

WHY WE LOVE TO CUT OUR OWN TREE:

  • Christmas Tree TraditionIt is $20 for a tree permit — TWENTY DOLLARS!  You can choose a big tree (which we love for our two-story great room) or a small tree (we always get a second for the kids to decorate). You can experience a true Colorado tree for much less than the real trees sold in the tree lots.
  • It could be FREE if you have a 4th Grade Student: Every Kid in a Park initiative is offering one free Holiday Tree permit to fourth-graders that have a valid 4th Grade Interagency Pass. These free Holiday Tree permits are only available at U.S. Forest Service District offices.  4th grader and pass must be present to purchase Tree Cutting permit.
  • It is a true bonding experience. This day is hands down always one of our favorites of the whole year, and we always come home with stories (read below in WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW!)
  • We are helping the health of our Colorado forests AND our trees stay SO fresh! Being married to a firefighter, and watching my In-Laws and many other families lose their homes in the Waldo Canyon Fire and the Black Forest Fire, this is important to me. It is a small act that can contribute to the overall well being of the forest and reduce fire danger.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

  • It does take some work and you will have more challenges with small children. We prefer to go with another family so there are several adults to help. You may have to hike in a bit to get the perfect tree, so carrying it out can be tough (and we always seem to have to carry it UPHILL). The tree is much heavier than you expect (especially if you also have to carry a toddler!)
  • The tree will be more Charlie Brown style. These are not the perfectly grown and groomed trees that you may see in a tree lot. I personally love this about the trees. The branches are sturdy and you can see all the ornaments on them. And I enjoy taking a tree that is a bit sparse and turning it into a beautiful centerpiece.
  • Leave early in the day, and head out of the forest by at least 3 pm. Plan for at least 4 hours if you are traveling from Colorado Springs, and be sure to prepare for winter weather. 4 wheel drive or chains are required.
  • Go with a full tank of gas, and bring a handsaw (chainsaws are not permitted). Bring food, extra water, 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 and tarp to pack your tree home.

THE NITTY GRITTY DETAILS  (CLICK HERE FOR THE OFFICIAL WEBSITE)

  • Christmas Tree on VehiclePermit Sales: You can purchase your permit(s) at The Pikes Peak Ranger District Office (601 S. Weber St., Colorado Springs, CO) from December 2, 201, through December 18, 2019. The office hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. You can also get permits on-site at the Woodland Park Work Center (1408 Rampart Range Road). Dates are December 7 and 8, 2019, December 14 and 15, 2019, from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (CASH AND CHECK ONLY on weekends).
  • Cost: Permits are $20.00 per tree, with a limit of 5 permits per person.
  • Cutting Dates: Trees may be cut any time after the purchase of permit through December 18, 2019. REMEMBER TO ATTACH THE PERMIT TAG TO YOUR TREE AS YOU LOAD IT INTO YOUR VEHICLE. (Removing trees without a valid permit is subject to a fine of up to $5000 and/or 6 months imprisonment)
  • Cutting Your Tree: Cut trees no greater than 6 inches in diameter and as close to the ground as possible. Remove the entire tree, PLEASE do not cut just the top of the trees.
  • Area: Trees may be cut on National Forest lands just east and north of Woodland Park along the Rampart Range Road #300 and Northwest of Woodland Park on Forest Service Road 357. Follow the signs.  You will get a very detailed map when you purchase your permit.
  • Other Forests in Colorado:  Click here for information statewide.

If you have any additional questions, you can also call 719-477-4221.

We would love to hear from you if you have cut your Christmas Tree in the past!  Share your stories below!

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Tonya
Tonya grew up in Iowa and attended the University of Northern Iowa, where she majored in Health Promotion (the degree you choose when you know are meant to make an impact but you don’t know exactly how) After graduating in 2003, her adventurous spirit lead her to pack up her little car and move to Colorado Springs. Her heart was easily won by the beautiful landscape, the amazing weather, colorful Aspen trees, and the fabulous people in this city. In 2008, she married her love and best friend, Ryan. They added two amazing boys to the family…Landon (2009) and Kellan (2011). After a rewarding career as a Director for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and a sales representative for Pfizer, her heart desired more time with her boys. In 2011, she became a work from home mom, focusing on her very busy boys full time and her health and wellness coaching business part time! Her passion as a mom includes building legos, trips to the zoo, family hikes, fishing, and camping. Her passion as a health coach is helping people see their potential, reach goals, and lead a healthy lifestyle. In her spare time (what is that again??), she loves working out, running, and reading. Her favorite things to do with her handsome hubby include riding bikes downtown Colorado Springs for date nights, hiking the incline, trying new (exotic) foods, spending time with great (adult) friends, and trying craft beers (inspired of course by her husband!).

3 COMMENTS

    • Hi Clarissa! Yes, in 2017 it was $10 for each permit, and it looks like in 2018 it is now $20 for each permit. Still a great memory making activity that helps keep our National Forest healthy! 🙂

  1. Hi! We’ve done this for many years with our babies, and puppy came last year! This year we are using it as a date outing while the kids are in school. It’s my favorite tradition. I love it so much. Thanks for the tip on the 4th grade benefit!!

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