One of my earliest memories is going out into the wilderness with my dad and cutting our own Christmas tree. It was a fun family adventure. I just learned that you can get a fresh-cut Christmas tree from Medicine Bow National Forrest. You have to go cut it and haul it yourself, but still, it's a pretty cool idea.

So, if I want to get a real tree, straight outta the forest with my kids this year, here's what I'll have to do.

The Forest Service says that "The Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests offer personal-use Christmas Tree Permits for the cutting of a tree on Forest land." You have to get a permit to do it and there are some areas that are off-limits to harvesting.

The permits cost $10, are for personal use only, and expire at the end of the year. You can get a permit at all the Medicine Bow Ranger District Offices in Wyoming and Colorado, including the office in Laramie at 2468 Jackson Street (map).

You can also get a permit at these locations.

  • West Laramie Fly Store, (307) 745-5425, 1657 Snowy Range Rd., Laramie, WY, 5:30 a.m. - 9 p.m., 7 days a week
  • The Clark Store, (970) 879-3849, 54175 RCR 129, Clark, CO, 7 am – 7pm, 7 days a week
  • Craig Chamber of Commerce & Moffat County Visitor Center, (970) 824-5689, 360 E Victory Way, Craig, CO, M-F, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. & 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Sat
  • Kremmling Chamber of Commerce, (970) 724-3472, 203 Park Ave, Kremmling, CO, M-W, 9 a.m.- 4 p.m.

Here are some tips from the experts on choosing and cutting the best 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.
Google StreetView

All areas on the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests are open to harvesting Christmas trees, except for some specific areas. Here's a partial list:

In the Laramie Ranger District:

  • SNOWY RANGE SCENIC BYWAY:  Do not cut trees within 500 feet of Snowy Range Scenic Byway (WY Highway 130).
  • POLE MOUNTAIN/VEDAUWOO:  Christmas tree cutting is prohibited in the Pole Mountain/Vedauwoo Unit of the Laramie Ranger District.
  • WY HIGHWAY 230:  Do not cut trees within 200 feet of the highway.
  • SNOWY RANGE SKI AREA:  Christmas tree cutting is prohibited.

In the Thunder Basin National Grassland

  • ENTIRE AREA:  Christmas tree cutting is prohibited

Forest-wide

  • FOREST ROADS AND TRAILS:  Do not cut trees within 100 feet of any forest road or trail.
  • DEVELOPED AREAS:  Do not cut trees in or within 200 feet of any developed areas, including Campgrounds, Picnic Areas, Trailheads, Scenic Overlooks and Administrative Sites.
  • WILDERNESS AREAS:  Christmas tree cutting is prohibited in Wilderness Areas.
  • TIMBER SALE AREAS:  Christmas tree cutting is prohibited in Timber Sale areas. Do not cut any tree marked with colored paint or signs.

To see the full list of restricted areas go here.

The Forrest Service says that when taking a Christmas tree from the National Forest, be sure to follow the rules.  Failure to do so is a violation.

  • Each permit is for one tree.
  • Sales are final and non-refundable.
  • A permit expires on the last day of the calendar year it was purchased.
  • Attach the permit to the trunk of the tree as soon as it is cut down and before leaving the cutting area.
  • 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 20 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.
  • Up to five Christmas Tree permits may be purchased by any one household in a calendar year.

.Don't forget, you'll be treking int the wilderness, so take safety seriously.

  • Check with the local Forest Service office for recent site and road information.
  • Park safely on a highway pullout or off of 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 kit.

Get that fresh tree that you cut with your own hands and you'll be on your way to having a very merry Wyoming Christmas.

SOURCE: United State Forrest Service

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