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Where can I find a nearby western U.S. National Forest where I can (legally) cut my Christmas Tree on National Forest land? 

There are National Forests all over the U.S. where you can legally cut down and take a Christmas tree home, for as little at $5 or $10.  There are some rules and requirements, most importantly getting a permit well in advance.  Very often, the forests allow only a limited number of trees to be cut, so you generally need to get your permit as soon as they allow it; that is usually early to mid November.

Click the links below for Christmas tree cutting permits in your area

What do you need to cut your own Christmas tree?​

In order not to become the next Clark Griswold, you will needthe following:

  • Permit $5 or $10 obtained from the foresty office. Christmas tree cutting dates are always set at the last minute (usually announced in late November) and take place in early December. Some areas allow cutting as early as Thanksgiving and some allow cutting until the end of the year. 
  • GPS
  • Forest cutting areas map (when you get your permit)
  • Rope to tie the tree down in your car or truck
  • Tarp to reduce the wind blowing your tree to bits as you drive down the road
  • Emergency flares - not to use in the forest, just in case you have breakdown while driving
  • Work gloves, waterproof boots - good tough ones
  • Eye protection - from splinters and shrapnel when cutting
  • Saw or Axe (power saws are usally NOT allowed in a national forest (remember the Donner Party)
  • Water or other, ahem, non-alcoholic drinks
  • Food - well, you do hear of people getting lost and starving in National Forests.
  • Extra clothing and blankets - again for emergencies

Tips

Be safe,

  • Always travel with a companion. Preferably someone plump and tasty in case you trapped in a blizzard
  • Always tell someone who will not be coming along when and where you are going on a forest, and let them know approximately how long you will be gone; make contingency plans in case you don't contact hem by certain time.
  • Always make sure to have an updated GPS and even an old fashioned compass before leaving
  • Be sure to check weather conditions - as the weather can change rapidly during the winter months
  • Always have emergency supplies, including food, water and flares.
  • Bring an extra set of clothing and blankets - just in case you get wet or stuck

Tree Cutting Tips:

  • Do not cut a tree near administrative sites, campgrounds or day sites, or within view of roads or trails
  • Make sure the area you choose to cut is clear of obstacles, including power lines and vehicles
  • Trees should be cut at the base, near the ground. Never take the top off a larger tree.
  • Make sure you securely place your permit tag around the trunk of the tree after you load it into your vehicle.