Christmas Tree Hunting, a Sulphur holiday tradition
For generations, families from across Grand County and the Front Range have made a tradition out of Christmas Tree hunting in the mountains west of Denver. A trip to the Sulphur Ranger District offers a memorable holiday experience. Combined with any combination of Grand County’s Activities and Events, visitors can make a full-day or even a full-weekend event out of holiday tree shopping.
How it works
Christmas tree hunters must first obtain a permit from the U.S. Forest Service. Permits cost $10 per tree and are limited to a maximum of five permits per person. This permit allows visitors to cut Christmas trees from almost anywhere in the Sulphur Ranger District from Nov. 1 through Jan. 6. Most roads will be closed to motor vehicles after Nov. 15, but snowmobiles or skis may be used to access much of the district. For snow conditions and a list of restricted areas, contact Visitor Information at 970-887-4100. See a map of Sulphur Ranger District cutting areas.
Elk Creek Cutting Area
This staffed cutting area offers visitors the opportunity to drive through prime Christmas Tree cutting terrain from Dec. 7 through Dec. 15, 2013. Roads will be plowed to allow motor vehicles equipped with four-wheel-drive or chained tires entry from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Snowmobiles and ATVs are not allowed in the cutting area. From Fraser, travel west on County Road 72 to the cutting area entrance. See a map of Elk Creek Cutting Area.
What to bring
Handsaw or Ax (chainsaws prohibited);
Winter clothing (waterproof pants and jackets, warm fleece or wool layers, snow boots, mittens or gloves, warms hats);
Sunscreen and sunglasses;
Water, warm drinks, snacks;
Sled for pulling tree or young children;
Straps, strong cord, tarp and work gloves for loading tree on vehicle;
Vehicle safety kit: shovel, blanket, first aid kit;
Full tank of gas;
Four wheel drive or chains are required.
Tree trunk must be six inches or less in diameter (strictly enforced).
Cut tree six inches or less from ground
Permits must be attached to tree before cutting and removing, and visible for easy checkout
Roads are narrow and slick with limited sight distance, please use caution.
Drive slowly within cutting area. Park off roads in plowed areas or pull-offs; do not obstruct traffic. One-way traffic only on all roads within the cutting area.
If someone in your group is missing, don't wait, notify Forest Service personnel immediately.
Each year a number of people either lose their keys or lock them in their vehicle. Bring a spare key and give it to another member of your party.
Expect winter conditions, including below-freezing temperatures and cold winds. Dress warmly.
Pets are not recommended; dogs must be on a leash if brought into the area.
Visiting Mountain Pine Beetle Areas
For the most current information on road or trail conditions and closures, check with either the Sulphur Ranger District Visitor’s Center (970-887-4100) or our website when planning your trip. Whenever traveling in Mountain Pine Beetle impacted areas, remember:
Your safety is your responsibility.
Falling trees are always a hazard when visiting the forest.
Be aware of your surroundings. Avoid dense patches of dead trees. They can fall without warning.
Stay out of the forest when there are strong winds that could blow down trees. If you are already in the forest when the winds kick up, head to a clearing out of reach of any potential falling trees.
Park vehicles in areas where they will not be hit if dead trees fall.
Contact the Sulphur Ranger District at (970) 887-4100 with any questions or concerns.