Christmas Tree Permits

The selection and cutting of a special tree from the forest for the holidays has been a treasured tradition for generations of residents.  The Tonto National Forest offers personal-use Christmas Tree Permits for the cutting of a tree on National Forest land. Christmas Tree Permits cost $15 per tree, are for personal use only (not for resale).

Important Dates

Christmas Tree Permit sales start in late November for permits bought through and at district ranger stations.

Limit 5 per person. No refunds will be made, even if weather conditions prevent you from reaching your cutting area and cutting your tree.

How to Obtain a Permit

Permits are available at the Cave Creek, Payson and Mesa Ranger Stations listed below or at

  • Cave Creek Ranger District (480) 595-3300
    40202 N. Cave Creek Rd.
    Scottsdale, AZ 85262
  • Mesa Ranger District (480) 610-3300
    5140 E. Ingram Street
    Mesa, Arizona 85205
  • Payson Ranger District (928) 474-7900
    1009 East Highway 260
    Payson, Arizona 85541

Where can I cut my Christmas tree?

Areas Closed to Christmas Tree Cutting

Trees may not be cut on private property, trailheads, and campgrounds

Christmas Tree Permit Regulations

When taking a Christmas tree from the National Forest, please observe the following permit requirements. Failure to do so is a violation.

  • Each permit is for one tree.
  • Sales are final and non-refundable.
  • Attach the permit to a bottom branch of the tree as soon as it is cut down and before leaving the cutting area. If you purchased an online permit, make sure it is visible on your dashboard.
  • Transport the tree so the permit is clearly visible from outside your vehicle.
  • Don’t top trees by leaving the lower part of the tree standing. Leave a stump less than six inches and cut below the lowest live limb.
  • Use boughs from the lower section of the tree you cut, NOT from other live trees.
  • Do NOT cut trees greater than 10 feet in height.
  • Do NOT cut trees that are more than six inches in diameter at the stump.
  • Scatter any unwanted branches to lie 24” or less from the ground.
  • This permit allows you to also collect boughs and pinecones for decorations if you wish.

Safety Suggestions

  • Check with the local Forest Service office for recent site and road information.
  • Park safely on a highway pullout or off a Forest Road.  Do not park where your vehicle can be hit by a falling tree.
  • Check maps to be sure of your location. Cutting on private land is trespassing!
  • Have a full tank of gas and use snow tires. Bring chains and a shovel.
  • Stay out of the forest when there are strong winds.
  • Use caution when felling your tree!
  • There is no cell phone coverage in many areas of the forest, so plan accordingly.
  • Dress warmly and bring food, extra water, a blanket, and a first aid
  • If you get stranded, stay with your group and your vehicle. Keep a window open while using your car heater.

Harvesting Your Christmas Tree

  • Choose a tree that is growing with other trees in a cluster. Leave the “perfect” trees to grow and provide for a healthy genetic source for the future forest.
  • Leave the site looking as undisturbed as possible and take your trash home with you.

Enjoy yourself and have a happy Holiday Season!