Outbound Collective logo

5 Tips For Cutting Down Your Own Christmas Tree

Get outside and bring home the holiday spirit.

By: Matthew Eaton + Save to a List

What better way to bring a little adventure to your holiday traditions than getting out into the forest to find your own Christmas tree. While these tree may not always the perfect shape, they all have great character and the experience of finding your tree while hiking is hard to beat. With that in mind, here are some helpful tips for your first time cutting your own Christmas tree:

Photo: Matthew Eaton

1. Regulations

This is the most important step in cutting down your own tree. The US Forest Service has set guidelines for where you can cut a tree and what size they may be. Some forests allow it, some don’t. Please do not disrespect your forest and make sure you check online or with your local ranger district for more information about local tree cutting regulations. Permits are generally no more than $10 for a single tree, with a trunk diameter of no more than 6”.

2. Layer Up

Weather is notoriously unpredictable in the mountains and winter can be especially brutal. Either choose a bluebird day to cut your tree or make sure that you have layered up from the base in order to stay warm while in the elements. It can take a while to find the perfect tree after all!

3. Traction

While it may be nice weather in town, remember that winter may have hit the mountains a couple months ago and there could be a lot of snow on the ground. Keep this in mind for both your feet and your wheels: it’s advised to have snow tires or chains and all-wheel drive with a high clearance. It will be equally as important to have snowshoes or snow traction on your feet.

Photo: Matthew Eaton

4. Bring the Goods

A few important items to bring are a saw (duh), gloves, and rope. You’ll need the rope to help drag your tree out of the forest, as well as secure on top of your vehicle. Don’t be the guy reaching out of your window holding the tree to the roof as you drive down the canyon. Not sure about you, but having a tasty snack and some warm apple cider waiting at the car make this even better. It’s also fun to build a fire and enjoy the afternoon as you can’t beat escaping the city during the holiday season to enjoy great camaraderie, food, drinks and the mountains all in one adventure!


The most important part of this is to have fun. Get out on the trail and search for your special tree that will be the centerpiece of the holidays for your family! Once located, dig down to the tree’s base, move the snow out of the way, and begin sawing the trunk of the tree. Have someone hold the tree upright so it doesn’t fall prematurely. Finally, don’t forget to yell “TIMBER” as it falls down into the snow.

Enjoy and have a Merry Christmas everyone!

Photo: Matthew Eaton

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Do you love the outdoors?

Yep, us too. That's why we send you the best local adventures, stories, and expert advice, right to your inbox.


Outdoor-Inspired Cocktails for Every Season

Noël Russell

A golden happy hour on the California coast

Hannah Sibley

Make these camp cocktails on your next adventure

Ellen Clark

A 3-day road trip adventure in Western Rocky Mountain National Park

Nallely Bean