A Guide to Cutting Down Your Own Colorado Christmas Tree

Denver Guide to Cutting Down a Christmas Tree

I know, I know, it’s barely fall.

The leaves have just changed. I’m totally against the commercialized “let’s all jump on the next season/holiday two months in advance” phenomenon, and I DO NOT play Christmas music until the day after Thanksgiving. However, I feel like I need to let the Denver Metro Moms community know about our family’s very favorite Christmas tradition: cutting down a Christmas tree in the mountains.


Did you know that you can cut down your own Christmas tree in the national forests of the Rocky Mountains? It’s only $10 for a permit, and you can pick from the list here to see what area works best for your location. Please note that you must contact each area to see what their individual policies are to obtain a permit. At this time, I can speak only for the “Buffalo Creek” area: in order to get a permit, you may mail in a downloadable form (available Oct. 11) and they mail you back the permit, OR you can go to their office (up 285, very close to Tiny Town) the first Monday in November. Permits can sell out, which is why I’m letting you know now about this awesome tradition. When you go, you need to remember to bring your permit, a handsaw, blanket, and something to secure your tree to your car (we use bungee cords). It’s also a good idea to have a thermos of hot chocolate and other snacks for the kids. Depending on if there is snow on the ground, it might also be a good idea to bring a sled so you can haul your kids around on it.

We LOVE doing this for a few reasons:

  1. I cut down my tree with my family for years and years growing up, and I love that I get to do the same with my children. Aside from a year or two with a fake tree when we first got married, we are firmly in the “real tree” camp.
  2. It connects us to our home. I love that we can go up into the mountains for a day and have a (forest service sanctioned) piece of Colorado in our home for the Christmas season.
  3. It’s become a tradition that we go with a few dear friends each year. We’ve grown from 3 kids to 7 in our little group, and it’s so fun to go together, take scenic family pictures for each other, and meet in our homes for soup afterwards. (It’s also hilarious to see us fighting with our spouses over the perfect tree.)

Of course, there are always challenges to this with kids. You may or may not encounter: whining children who complain about snow stuck in their boots, forgetting a saw, tying the tree down through the windows of your car and getting locked out, walking for hours in the forest because the trees are a little sparse (adjust your expectations for this–the trees will NOT be big and full), getting your eyes frozen shut, and driving under a semi truck on your way there. (Actual experiences encountered by us and the Griswold family).

I would highly recommend doing this as a family Colorado Christmas tradition. We love it, and hope you will too.

Do you get your Christmas tree in the mountains? Are you team real tree or team fake tree? Any questions about the process? Let us know in the comments!

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