Holiday Decorating

Cut Your Own Colorado Christmas Tree: Squirrels Not Included

If you are looking for something fun to do with your family and you celebrate Christmas – consider a day trip to cut your own tree in one of Colorado’s beautiful National Forests.  This year’s Christmas Tree cutting dates for the Rocky Mountain Region are December 3rd-December 11th.  My family and I did this last year and had a blast.  One tip, take some sleds, there were some great sled hills around and we wished we had brought one.

Here’s an article I wrote last year on the experience along with more tips and photo’s of the trip:

plaid christmas tree
This is not me hanging up my holiday greenery. (Source)

Every Christmas in Colorado, the National Forest Service sells about 30,000 tree cutting permits for people to venture out into the wilderness, Christmas Vacation style, and cut their own tree. This year they opened the permit sale the day after Thanksgiving and sold out quite quickly in the areas closest to Denver.  We purchased our permits ($10.00 per tree, with a limit of 5 per household) from the Forest Service office in Fairplay, Colorado and had a fantastic time in the snow finding our trees in Pike National Forest.

Cutting your own tree colorado
The only problem with cutting your own tree is that the scale is off. A 15′ tree looks tiny in a forest. We have 8′ ceilings and ended up cutting down a 12′ tree that looked small out there, although when I look at this picture of it – I can’t imagine how we thought it looked small!

We found an Engelmann Spruce tree.  Per advice from the Forest Service, we looked in old growth aspen stands to find the smaller, more Christmas tree proportioned spruces.  The Englemann spruce is a high altitude white spruce whose wood is prized for making certain musical instruments.  I have to say, it felt odd cutting down a tree even though the Forest Service says that thinning the 6″ and under diameter trees that are clustered near other trees helps lessen the risk of forest fires.

colorado christmas tree cut your own
Sylvia cut and carried out her own little spruce tree. 4th graders get a free tree permit this year as well as free entrances to National Parks through Every Kid in a Park.

This type of tree is different than the conical, dense, shrub-like trees from my Christmas’s past.  Our tree reminds me of Scandinavian style trees – our large colorful bulbs were not a fit, nor was our usual profusion of ball ornaments.  I felt like I needed some ideas for this more spare, almost spindly, tree and I looked towards Scandinavia for inspiration.

candles on christmas tree
I adore this spare, monochromatic Scandinavian tree and the candles are gorgeous. (Source)
scandinavian christmas tree stars
Simple decorations with very little color and tree candles really make this tree stand out as a sculpture.  (Source)
colorado christmas tree
Less is more – minimal, monochromatic and unusual – but absolutely lovely! (Source)
red and white christmas tree
Handmade decorations and a red and white color scheme look fantastic with this more American country style. (Source)
pine cones christmas tree
Simple pinecones adorn this little tree. We had some pinecones from last year and put them up on the new tree – they look right at home.  (Source).
how to cut your own christmas tree
I love the look of the candles! (Source)

I wish I could be this spare and minimalist with my tree.  Unfortunately, my tastes run towards (I am not kidding) trees decorated with everything but the cat – like this one:

oldfashioned christmas tree
I love this tree. Goopy, dripping with ornaments and burdened with colorful lights. My woodland spruce would collapse under the weight of this stuff! (Source)

Our tree this year is a happy medium between the overdone wonderfulness of the last tree and the spare Scandinavian trees.  I eased up on the decorations and used white lights instead of colored bulbs.   I also ordered remote controlled, battery operated LED clip on candles for the tree (so not romantic sounding).  I’m hoping they’ll amp up the Scandinavian and vintage look – but they may look like battery operated clip on LED lights in a vague candle like shape.  (Update:  I love them – these are the ones I bought: Christmas Tree Taper Candles.  I did have to take off a lot of the other lights I put on to get the look right.)

cut your own christmas tree colorado
Sylvia, in the process of decorating our tree. I may have to take off some of the lights once the candles arrive. At my core I am a minimalist with a love of the maximal.  We did end up wrapping the base of the tree with burlap which looks awesome by the way.  Colorado Fabrics sells it for $3 a yard.

This scene from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation was filmed in Colorado and I absolutely have to include it.  Here is the Griswold family finding the family tree:

For a great article on cutting your own tree see Men’s Journal article: How to Cut Your Own Tree.  Happy Decorating!

Let me know if you’ve done this too – I’d love to hear your experience and also where you went!

2 thoughts on “Cut Your Own Colorado Christmas Tree: Squirrels Not Included”

  1. Enjoyed all the pictures, especially the ones of Sylvia ! thanks for sharing wonderful ideas for my family this season of the year !

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