South Platte Ranger District Holiday Tree Program 2012 -- FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions
Holiday Tree Program 2012


Q. NEW! Are there any sold out dates?

A.   Please note: the Christmas tree permits on the South Platte Ranger District for 2012 are all sold out! Plan ahead and mark your calendar for next year's program starting on November 1, 2013


Q.   Where can I cut my Christmas tree?

A.    In the Buffalo Creek tree cutting area on the South Platte Ranger District of the Pike National Forest.


Q.   Do I need a permit to cut a Christmas tree in the Buffalo Creek tree cutting area?

A.    A permit is needed for the Buffalo Creek cutting area.


Q.   How much does it cost for a permit?

A.    It is $10 per permit.  You are allowed to purchase up to five (5) permits per family. 


Q.   When can I buy a permit to cut my Christmas tree?

A.    Permit sales begin on Thursday, November 1 and last until the permits are sold out, usually within about two weeks. 


Q.  Where can I buy a permit to cut my Christmas tree in the Buffalo Creek area?

A.  Permits can be purchased at the South Platte Ranger District Office (19316 Goddard Ranch Court) or by mailing in a permit request form. PERMITS WILL NOT BE AVAILABLE IN THE CUTTING AREA!


Q.  Do I have to purchase a permit for a specific cutting day?

A.    Yes, permits are sold for specific days.  When purchasing a permit, you must select a specific day to cut your tree. Permits are checked as individuals enter the area and they are only allowed to cut their tree on the day they have purchased their permit.


Q.  What if the day I want to cut my tree is sold out?

A.  You will need to choose a different day.


Q.  What if I can’t cut my tree on the day that I have bought a permit for?

A.    You can use any permit during the following dates:

  • Monday, November 26 through Friday, November 30
  • Monday, December 3 through Friday, December 7
  • Sunday, December 9


Q.   Are there other restrictions?

A.    Yes. Please read the following list:

  • Only trees that are less than 6 inches across AT GROUND LEVEL and less than 25 feet tall can be cut.
  • Cut the tree as close to the ground as possible. Leave stumps no more than 6 inches high.
  • The entire tree must be removed from the forest, including all branches and stemwood.
  • Permits must be attached and visible on tree as you leave the cutting area.
  • Do not cut trees marked with signs, paint or flagging.


Q.  What if I want to cut a very big tree. 

A.  Tree size in the Buffalo Creek area is limited to trees that are less than 6 inches in diameter at ground level and no more than 25 feet tall. Trees larger than 6 inches in diameter at ground level and more than 25 feet tall cannot be cut in the Buffalo Creek area. Individuals cutting trees larger than 6 inches in diameter and/or more than 25 feet tall may be issued a Federal Petty Offence Violation Notice subject to up to 6 months in prison and/or a $5,000 fine.


Q.   Are there any new areas open this year?

A.     No new areas are open this year. However, the Buffalo Creek area is a very large area with a lot of valleys and hillsides that have many trees to choose. Tree cutters can find a very large selection of trees by walking a little further off of the road to search for their tree.             


Q.   What kind of tree makes the best Christmas tree?

A.    Options vary on what tree is best. Spruces (Engelmann and Colorado blue) are prized as beautiful Christmas trees. However, spruces have sharp pointed needles that some people find objectionable. Spruce trees are very difficult to find in the Buffalo Creek area. Below are other trees available at the Buffalo Creek cutting area. Click on the names of the trees to view photos and descriptions.


Q.   Do you have any tips on making the tree fire-resistant?

A.    A dry holiday tree is a tragedy waiting to happen. As soon as you bring yours home, make it fire-resistant by following columnist Jack Eden's recipe:

  • 2 gals. boiling water
  • 2 cups (one pint bottle) clear corn syrup
  • 2 oz. wetting agent (available at garden shops) or 2 oz. liquid Woolite
  • 2 oz. cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. Borax
  • 4 oz. liquid chlorine bleach

Stir mixture well in a 3 to 5 gallon container. Make a fresh straight cut about 2 inches across the base of the tree. Then place the tree in the solution.

It will take about five days for the tree to absorb the mix. When you bring the tree indoors, use the mix in the stand at all times. (Home Mechanix, Dec. 1989)


Q.   I only have a 2WD vehicle. Is there any place I can go for my tree?

A.    Most areas are accessible by 2WD, but you may have to hike, snowshoe, or ski in to find the best trees. If the weather is bad, tree cutters with 2WD vehicles may be limited to the main roads.


Q.   What else do I need to know?

A.    Dress warmly. Be prepared for changes in weather. FOREST SERVICE ROADS MAY BE SNOWY AND ICY. We recommend you carry chains and/or use a 4WD vehicle. High clearance may also be necessary. Have a full tank of gas. Pack out your trash. Do not trespass on private property. Be sure to allow plenty of daylight time to find your tree; it gets dark by 4:30 pm as Christmas approaches.


Q.  Will Smokey Bear be at the tree cutting area?

A.  Smokey plans on being in the tree cutting area on November 23, 24, and 25, and also on December 1, 2 and 8. However, due to limited staffing, Smokey may not be able to make all the days the area is open.


Q.   What if I cannot make it to the South Platte office in Morrison to buy my permit?

A.    You can send a mail-in request for your permit. Fill out a Christmas Tree Permit Order Form (PDF version). Send check or money order (marked “Christmas Tree Permits”) with the number of trees you are requesting. Make check or money order payable to USDA Forest Service. Mail in tree requests must be received by November 16 to allow time to process the permit request and for the permit to be mailed back in time to cut your trees. Please include a legal business size #10 (long) self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE) for every two (2) permits ordered.

We are not responsible for permits lost in the mail;
no replacement permits will be re-issued.


Individuals cutting trees larger than 6” in diameter and/or more than 25 feet tall may be issued a Federal Petty Offence Violation Notice subject to up to 6 months in prison and/or a $5,000 fine.


If you have further questions, please call the district office at (303) 275-5610.

One of the decorated horses from the Front Range Back Country Horsemen (FRBCH) group.