A Holiday Adventure: Harvest Your Own Christmas Tree!

We’re constantly in awe of the sheer beauty of the Rocky Mountains and the winter wonderland we call home. Getting out to harvest your own Christmas tree is one of the perks of living (or visiting) here! Kind of like “earn your turns,” we like to put in the work for our trees. We've lived through all the tree cutting experiences you can imagine. The fairy-tale jaunt through the woods with hot chocolate on a bluebird day? The best. Post-holing through the woods to find the perfect tree only to find it's 5-feet too tall when you get it home? Been there. Looking for the cute pic to share with family and friends of your baby on their first tree-cutting adventure only to find their too cold to expose any skin for the camera? Not out of the realm of possibility. Or you're ready to take the family pic and realize you're missing a kid? You can photoshop them in later. Stoked for the adventure but realize the perfect tree is a few feet off the road and snow levels are low, so the whole "adventure" takes less than five minutes? Win. Bring the tree home only to find a squirrel is still living in it? Hasn't happened to us (yet), but it would obviously be a story worth documenting! The true adventure, unknowns, and memories made with the DIY tree cutting available in Grand County just make it yet another reason we wouldn't live anywhere else.


The Arapaho National Forest has plenty of local favorites. It's open to tree cutting November 10-January 6. aside from Elk Creek (between Winter Park & Fraser) and Jim Creek (across from Winter Park Resort) which are only open December 3-11. Meadow Creek, Shadow Mountain, Stillwater Campground, and Willow Creek Pass all opened to cutting November 10. Check out all the maps here, and make sure to look over all of the USFS regulations here

You can also cut trees at YMCA's Snow Mountain Ranch November 25-December 18. Just swing by the program office, purchase your tree-cutting ticket ($29) that also includes an activity day pass, and head out to find the tree that you'll bring home. Lodging guests receive a complimentary tree-cutting ticket upon check-in. If you end up at Snow Mountain Ranch for your tree-cutting adventure, be sure to check out all their other activities and amenities. It's definitely a hidden gem. 

Wherever you decide to explore in your quest for this year's tree, we hope you find "the one."


Arapaho National Forest/Sulphur Ranger District permits are now available to purchase online for $20 a tree (up to 5/person).  Be sure to pick the Sulphur Ranger District and specify whether you're headed toward "district-wide" dispersed cutting or the Elk Creek/Jim Creek areas. Remember to print off your permit and display it on your tree or dash after cutting. If you'd rather buy your permit in person, they can be purchased Country Ace Hardware in Granby, Fireside Market & Eatery in Winter Park, Winter Park Chamber of Commerce in Winter Park, Murdoch's in Fraser, and the Visitor Center in Grand Lake. Regardless of whether you purchase in-person or online, be sure to have your permit in hand when you head out on your hunt!



This isn't the United States Forest Service's first rodeo. They've put together some dos and don'ts for Christmas tree cutting, and we're with them because we recognize the challenge that lies in opening up the forest to cutting while also respecting the land. Here are a few of their guidelines: tree trunk size must be 6 inches or less in diameter, trees must be cut 6 inches or less from the ground (avoid cutting tree tops), stay off private property, keep dogs on leashes, and pack out your own trash. And they of course recommend bundling up so you can enjoy your adventure in the forests of Grand County! 

Posted by Angela McDonough (Sandstrom) on


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