Your Southern Colorado Guide to Harvesting Your Own Christmas Tree

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A Guide to Harvesting Your Own Christmas Tree

It’s a time-honored tradition to journey into the woods and harvest your own tree during the holidays. Southern Colorado’s vast evergreen forests on public lands offer a plethora of options from which to choose and we’ve compiled a guide to the best places and ways to harvest your own Christmas tree.

You can harvest your tree on BLM or USFS land and the link to purchase your permit is listed below. Remember to pack for the weather, bring your permit with you, and follow the rules put forth by the regulatory agency listed below. 

Head out into the woods - where to go

Pike National Forest  (USFS)
  • Pikes Peak Ranger District (Pikes Peak National Forest)
    • Closest for those living in Colorado Springs
    • Permits are available now through December 15
    • Cost: $20/tree (max 5 trees)
    • Map
Bureau of Land Management (BLM)

BLM has an interactive map showing where you can and cannot harvest trees. Be sure to follow instructions on the sidebar of the map.  

  • Royal Gorge Field Office
    • For those living in the Royal Gorge Region. Permits are available now through Christmas Eve. Cost: $10
  • San Luis Field Office
    • For those in the San Luis Valley area. Permits are available now through Christmas Eve. Cost: $10

Tips for successful harvesting

  • When choosing your perfect tree, we highly recommend picking one that’s in an area with some tree density. In doing so, you’re helping thin the forest just a little bit, which helps reduce wildfire risk and give other trees room to grow. 
  • Hunting seasons are open, so wear brightly colored clothing. 
  • Cell service is not reliable in remote areas, we recommend bringing a paper map (boundary maps with trailheads are included below). 
  • In addition to warm clothing, be sure to bring some work gloves.
  • Bring a tarp to help carry your tree if it’s too heavy. Dragging along the ground without one will break off the needles.  
  • Should we ever actually get snow, some USFS or BLM roads may not be plowed, so 4WD or tire chains are recommended depending on the weather. 
  • If you are putting the tree on the roof of your vehicle, wrap it in canvas or cloth to protect it from the wind when you’re driving home. 

Rules & regulations for your adventure

Adopted from the USFS and BLM. Regulations are also listed on the regulatory agency websites when you purchase your permit.

  • Do not cut on private land, in designated Wilderness areas, designated campgrounds, or existing tree plantations. 
  • Hand saws only. Chain saws and power saws are not permitted. 
  • Do not cut trees in or within 200 feet of any developed areas, including campgrounds, picnic areas, recreation areas, trailheads, scenic overlooks, and administrative sites.
  • Christmas tree cutting is prohibited in timber sale areas. Do not cut any tree marked with colored paint, flagging, or signs.
  • Do not cut trees within 100 feet of any waterway, forest road, or trail.
  • You may cut a tree up to 15 feet tall or 6 inches in diameter at ground level.
  • Want to stay clean? Any species of tree may be cut, however, steer clear of Bristlecone pine since they can be sappy which is both messy and can be a fire hazard.
  • If snow is on the ground, remove it from around the stump so you can accurately measure the stump and tree height. Trees must be cut within 6 inches of the ground. 
  • Take the whole tree. Do not remove the top of the tree; cut down and utilize the entire tree and don't leave a high stump.

Permits

Purchase your USFS permit here:

Purchase Your BLM permit here:

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