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Real Christmas Tree Hunting Is Good For The Forest

Disclaimer: This post is meant for entertainment purposes only. Any other use is country to the authors intent. All views expressed are those of the author and none other. 

It’s the season of fir trees.

Douglas Fir, Balsam Fir, Noble, Canaan, Grand, the list goes on

Whether you like your Christmas Tree to be soft and supple or just a little pit prickly to keep the small children and pets at bay (shout out to my mom!) 

Then this post is for you. 

For the “Real Christmas Tree” Beginner. 

I know many prefer the fake trees. I’ve owned my fair share and have nothing against them. But there’s just something so special about the smell and energy of a real fir tree.

So for those of you who haven’t ever bought a real Christmas tree before here are some quick suggestions. 

The incomplete list of buying or hunting for a real Christmas tree. 

First, you can buy your Christmas tree from a Christmas tree lot. Many have a selection of two or three types of trees, Noble Fir and Douglas Firs are popular in my area. 

The trees are generally freshly cut so should last a couple of weeks or longer if well cared for. And some lots will even help you to tie the tree to your car. Bonus! 

Second, is to check out the selection at your local grocery store or hardware store.  The grocery store will not have as large a selection as most hardware stores such as Home Depot. 

But in a pinch they are a great option, especially if you don’t get your tree until just before Christmas and take it down right after. 

Third, depending on where you live you may be able to visit a Christmas tree farm and either select one to be cut down or even cut it down yourself. I remember doing this once as a kid and it was a lot of fun. 

For the Real Christmas Tree Diehard

But for those who love to have the smell of a freshly cut Christmas tree and enjoy doing it themselves, combined with the fun of hiking and exploring, then there’s nothing like a true Christmas tree hunt. 

I’m talking about hiking into the woods to find the perfect tree. 

When I was a child we lived in the mountains of Montana. Every year my dad would go into the woods near our home and cut down a tree.

I remember going one time. I was a young child maybe six or seven, so in my memory we trekked through knee deep snow, uphill all ways until we found the perfect tree. 

In reality we probably were only in calf deep snow, I’ve always been vertically challenged. And the uphill all ways, was all the snow drifts I had to navigate. 

But it was a blast, and it’s the memory I think of when I think about buying a Christmas tree.

I know what you’re thinking…

No way is that legal! In fact you probably have heard that you should never cut down a tree in a national forest. 

For the most part you’re right. 

I’ll be honest my dad never had a permit. I’m not sure if one was required back then or if he just figured since he used to be in the forest service he knew how to cut one down without getting caught. 

Don’t be like Dad. 

Instead buy a permit for around $5-10. Might be a little bit more so check with your local national forest. 

Yes you can buy a permit for a Christmas Tree from participating National Forests. Which not only helps you have fun but it will help aid the health of the forest by thinning overpopulated stands. 


There are some basic guidelines to follow when looking for a Christmas tree in a national forest.

  • Look for a tree in an over populated stand
  • Look for a tree that is shorter than 12 feet and has a trunk diameter less than 6 inches 
  • Avoid trees that are within 200 yards of main road, parks, or developed areas
  • Avoid wet areas, sides of rivers, lakes, and streams. 

Check with your forest ranger for specific details in the national forest near you. You can also visit recreation.gov for a list of all participating forests and some additional guidelines. 

Make it a family activity.

Christmas tree hunting is not only fun but a great way to form lasting memories with your family. 

If you have a 4th or 5th grade student you can get a free permit through the Every Kids Outdoors program. Now that’s an awesome Christmas Bonus. 

And starting this year, 2020, you can buy your permit online. See, this year doesn’t totally suck!

Some of my favorite Christmas memories are of hunting for the perfect Christmas tree

Be sure to check local weather conditions, before you head into the forest and double check al guidelines. 

Whether it be in a Christmas tree lot at the mall, or up in the mountains, I hope you all find joy in hunting for your perfect Christmas tree.

About Author

Jenn Gaskin

After more than a decade in education I decided to turn my copious skills to writing. I have been freelance writing for Dancing Tree Gifts (formerly Sonora Kay Creations) since 2019. I wear many hats with DTG primarily copy editor, author, and web design.