I've always wanted a real Christmas tree. After purchasing my day-glo white monstrosity, I've realized that one fun Christmas tradition I've never taken part in is finding my very own tree-- out in the Colorado wild.

If you're interested in cutting down your own tree, here's your guide, but there are a few things you need to remember before heading out into the first forest you see with a chainsaw. Here are some tips 303 Magazine provided:

  • "No chainsaws allowed. Use a small handsaw.
  • No pets.
  • No cutting off just the treetops. That’s rude.
  • Leave trees with blue paint alone.
  • Only cut trees with a diameter of six inches or less.
  • Cut the trunk within six inches of the ground below branches.
  • Take or scatter any tree remains you don’t need.
  • Leave no trace!" Source

Now, just where can you find a tree of your very own? Here are a few options.

1. Red Feather Lakes

Grab the family (and a permit-- which you can buy right here) and head up to Red Feather Lakes, where Smoky Bear will greet you and the kids and you can spend the day searching for your tree like a mountain explorer. Cutting days last through the 9th of December, so get your 4WD vehicle ready for a snowy, Christmassy day.

2. The Christmas Tree Train

Here's something fun and unique to do with the family: board a train in Durango and ride the rails. The company's website urges you to remember to get a permit but also to remember that when you're cutting down a tree, you're helping the forest.

"By cutting small white fir trees growing in the understory, passengers will help to reduce wildfire danger along the railroad corridor." Source


3. Fraser/Winter Park

There's a special area in Elk Creek where Colorado residents can (after grabbing their permit) come by and chop down their very own Christmas tree. You can view the map here, and cutting is available through January 6th (if you want to celebrate Christmas a little late this year). You can learn more on the USDA's website right here. (Source)

Good luck on your search for the perfect Christmas tree, and don't forget to do it safely and responsibly. Clean up after yourself, follow all of the rules of your cutting area, and make Smoky the Bear proud.

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