Each year, regulatory agencies in Colorado designate several areas where you can cut your own Christmas tree near Denver. This year is no different.
Every year my little family and I head out into the national forests near Denver to cut a tree for Christmas. This amazing budget-friendly Christmas tree lets us spread some holiday cheer while also helping to keep the forests healthy in the state – a win-win!
I’ve lived here for over 15 years and never bought a tree. Instead, we snag a permit to cut our own each year. Here’s what you need to know about this year’s awesome Christmas tree-cutting permits in Colorado.
Can I Cut Down My Own Christmas Tree in Colorado?
Yes! But there are several rules. First, you are only allowed to cut down a Christmas tree in designated areas. These areas change every year, as the Forest Service, BLM offices, and Colorado State Parks determine where you can and cannot cut trees.
Local Tip: You are NOT allowed to cut down Christmas trees in National Parks.
Aside from designated areas, you also need to purchase a permit. Yes, there are people checking your permits when you go to cut your Christmas tree near Denver or anywhere in Colorado, so you will want one.
Lastly, each permit zone has rules and regulations on the size of tree you are allowed to cut. These rules usually have the following limits:
- Only specific size trunks can be cut
- There is a limit on the height of the tree
- There are usually recommendations for the type of tree – for example, a tree in a cluster of 3
These rules vary by zone, and your permit will have associated rules with it, so be sure to read those!
When Can You Cut Your Christmas Trees in Colorado?
Each Christmas tree permit has different rules for when you can cut your tree. In general, most permits go on sale in November (and they do sell out fast for popular spots) and you can cut your tree during specific times in December. But remember, each permit is totally different, so be sure to read about when you can cut your tree for the permit you obtain.
Local Tip: Popular spots, especially the areas where you can cut your Christmas tree near Denver, sell out very quickly. It’s best to snag your permit as soon as they open!
Where Can I Cut a Christmas Tree Near Denver in 2023?
There are several areas where you can cut your Christmas tree near Denver this year. Here’s a look at where you can snag permits.
Golden Gate Canyon State Park
Golden Gate Canyon State Park is offering 250 permits for tree cutting this year. This is a fantastic place to cut a tree as it’s one of the top state parks in Colorado.
Drive time from Denver: 45 mins
Permits on sale: Nov 1 – 15
Lottery? Yes. 250 permits awarded
Price: $35 plus entry into the park (free if you have a park pass with your registration)
Cutting window: TBD
Cut your Christmas tree near Nederland this year! Reynolds Ranch will be hosting 100 permits (last year over 1,000 people applied) for cutting trees this year. There are specific time slots and requirements for a permit.
Drive time from Denver: 1 hr
Permits on sale: Now through Nov 12th
Lottery? Yes. 100 permits awarded
Price: $20 plus entry into the park (free if you have a park pass with your registration)
Cutting window: December 2nd and 3rd
Arapaho and Rosevelt National Forest
There are three areas in the Arapaho and Rosevelet National Forest where you are permitted to cut your Christmast tree this year. They are:
- Canyon Lakes Ranger District
- Elk Creek Cutting Area
- Sulphur Ranger District
You can snag your permit at recreation.gov.
Drive time from Denver: Varies, but around 1hr
Permits on sale: Nov 9th
Price: $20 per tree
Cutting window: Varies depending on the district, but generally any time from Nov 10 through Jan 7th
Pike and San Isabel National Forest
The Pike and Isabel National Forests also have areas where you can cut down your Christmas Tree in Colorado.
There are a TON of options here – from Buffalo Creek all the way to the San Carlos Ranger District.
Buffalo Creek, Sugar Creek, and Camp Fike make you choose a specific day for cutting, and dates can sell out so make sure to read the fine print!
Drive time from Denver: Varies depending on the area. Anywhere from 1.5 to 2.5 hours away
Permits on sale: Time varies based on where you are going (the Buffalo Creek area is already selling out) but anytime from now until mid-November.
Lottery? No, but some areas require you to reserve a specific time.
Price: $20 per tree, maximum of 5 trees
Cutting window: Varies depending on the district.
Where do I get my permits?
Use the links above to snag your permits. Different jurisdictions have different permit requirements. In general, if you’re cutting in a National Forest, all permits can be purchased through recreation.gov. State parks have their own special lottery system.
Why is Cutting Your Own Christmas Tree a Good Thing?
Cutting your own Christmas tree in Colorado has quite a few perks. First, it’s really fun to get out and cut your own tree.
Lots of people make a day of it. They will bring camping chairs, hot cocoa and have a little bit of a party! We do this – typically pack some snacks, a good beverage, and have a little fun!
Secondly, it’s cheaper – MUCH cheaper, than buying from a tree farm.
And, most importantly, it’s beneficial to the forests. A lot of our forests haven’t been properly managed and many of them haven’t burned in a long time (forest fires are healthy folks). So by cutting a tree, you’re helping to maintain the forests that we love so dearly here in Colorado!