The Colorado Christmas Tree

The Colorado Christmas Tree Spirit

Christmas is a special time of year and what better way to celebrate than to decorate a Christmas tree? If you live in Colorado or just visiting for the holidays, the Christmas tree experience can take on new meaning. With 11 national forests, totaling approximately 14.5 million acres, all stuffed full of evergreen trees, and yes just the right ones make perfect Christmas trees. 

christmas tree national forest

What About the Forest

With so many evergreen trees filling our National forests, harvesting mid-sized trees will hardly be noticed. As a matter of fact, reducing the number of trees in densely forested areas helps control disease, insect problems, and stress among competing trees. Additionally, if you’re thinking you might want to add a new tree to your home’s landscape, transplanting trees is also possible. You will need a permit for transplanting a tree and a different permit for cutting one down.

The Local Christmas Tree Market

Perhaps you’re a custom to perusing through your local Christmas tree market with your family and friends. Finding what you think is the perfect tree, standing it up for all to approve, only to be shown a better one. However, after an hour or so, a unanimous decision is made. It’s the height, the fullness of the branches, or the type of bristle that seals the deal.

About Christmas Tree Markets

Purchasing a Christmas tree from a local holiday market is participating in the farm-raised Christmas tree business. Just like growing corn or another crop that is considered agricultural, growing Christmas trees are an agricultural crop too! Buying a farm-raised Christmas tree is similar to buying farm-raised agricultural products versus “wild-caught”. Participating in the Christmas tree agri-business might be more comfortable for some than harvesting a tree in the National Forests. However, in Colorado, you can choose where to get your Christmas tree.

The Special Colorado Christmas Tree Harvest Day

Once you make the decision to harvest your Christmas tree from the National Forest, you can make a special day of it. Set a date with your partner or the family member(s) who wants to go. Usually, the Christmas tree ritual takes place in the days past Thanksgiving. The forests this time of year often have some snowfall blanketing the ground. Depending on how deep the early season snow is will determine if you can just wear snow boots or bring along snowshoes or cross-country skis. 

Where to Find the Best Christmas Treechristmas tree top of car

You will want to go to a forest area that is close by. Typically you will have to park your vehicle in a designated parking area, although some areas do have forest service access roads that are open to the public. In either case, you really don’t want to have to drag the tree too far back to the vehicle. 

Finding the “perfect tree” is a matter of choice; however, some clues to look for would be:

  1. Look at trees that are on relatively flat ground. Trees that are growing on hillsides may have the perfect fullness you are after, but often have severe bends in their trunks. Or, the entire tree can have a bend in it. 

  2. Remember that you must cut below the lowest live limb and leave a stump no higher than six inches. A hillside could very well interfere with these requirements.

  3. Consider finding a tree that is in a densely populated area. Where removing that tree will help surrounding trees grow.

Tools For Harvesting a Christmas Tree

In addition to dressing for winter weather and wearing appropriate footwear. You will need some basic tools.

  • A hand saw. Chainsaws are not allowed.

  • A shovel for clearing snow to find the bottom of the tree trunk.

  • A rope or ropes to bundle the tree with and or drag it back to the vehicle.

  • Another rope or something to fix the tree to the vehicle with (top of the car).

  • Wear some orange clothing if you are within a hunting season. 

Make it Fun Day

Stomping around in the snowy forest can be even more fun if you bring a thermos of warm tea or hot chocolate along. A few snacks are a good idea too. Finding your perfect Christmas tree in Colorado’s National forest is a Colorado privilege. Make it a part of your Colorado Holiday experience this year and have fun too. 

The Christmas Holiday Vacation Solved

If you're vacationing in Colorado for the holidays. Going on a Christmas tree harvesting expedition might not be something that you really want to do. Dealing with a real evergreen tree whether you purchase it or cut it down yourself is a bit of a messy ordeal. Pine needles have a tendency to get everywhere plus you need to have a full gamut of Christmas ornaments, lights, and a tree stand. Not to mention the extras like a wreath, decor for the fireplace mantle, stockings, poinsettias, and more. 

Ideally, you want all the Christmas Garlin to be "ready to go" when you arrive, less the presents of course. If you look around or ask your vacation planner to locate a company that specializes in holiday decor. You will certainly find these services. These companies will give you a choice of having a real tree or an artificial one, and what type of extras or style of decor you are after. Their fee also includes set up and tear down. Making your holiday experience full of time to have fun skiing and enjoying your family. 

 by Kathleen Fitzsimmons 

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