Although many go the easy route and buy a fake tree for Christmas, there’s something special about having a real one. While it may take more work and won’t last as long, it will provide a traditional experience.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website, most national forests do allow guests to cut down trees for various reasons, including for use as firewood or Christmas trees.
Guests looking to cut down trees need to obtain a permit from the forest district office, along with tree-cutting instructions. The office will also provide specific dates, times and areas when it’s ok to cut down trees.
The USFS also recommends checking with the local office before removing any already dead trees, as animals may be living in the tree. It also warns to stay away from areas near streams, rivers or other bodies of water.
For Christmas trees specifically, they must be cut from an area that is at least 200 feet from any main roads or other sites (like camping or recreation). The trunk must be six inches in diameter or less.
Also, guests are not allowed to cut the tops off taller trees (or, cut a taller tree down and then remove the top).
The USFS will provide a tree tag that should be applied to the tree before it’s loaded into any vehicles.