For years and years, we would grab a Christmas tree from the local home improvement store or Target. We would get it home, get it decorated, and call it good. We lived in Pensacola, Florida where Christmas tree cutting areas aren’t exactly a thing. With small children, getting a live tree felt like more of a hassle than a fun holiday tradition so we switched to a gorgeous fake tree. We had a huge great room with vaulted ceilings and our gigantic tree looked wonderful in it. Fast forward to our move to Colorado. The tree was way too big for our tiny, chopped up house so we got rid of it and tried our hand at cutting down our own tree. In the forest. WHAT?
Since moving here, we have fallen in love with Winter Park, Colorado. We love the laid back mountain scene, it is where we buy our annual ski passes, and where I will someday have a mountain home (well, if the mountain home is in the cards). Naturally, it made sense to us to find a cutting area in Winter Park. We prefer the Elk Creek Cutting area. It is accessibly only by 4WD, chains, or AWD for a two week time period. They plow some semblance of a road and it is a bumpy ride in! The kids love it. There are a number of parking areas but they fill up fast. We pick a parking spot we like, get parked and start hiking. You have to get in early or else you will be battling for a parking space the whole time you are there. This was our second year and I feel like we have some tips and tricks to help make your process go a little easier:
Tips and Tricks for Cutting Down Your Own Christmas Tree
- Make it an early morning. We left our house in Denver at 6:30, arrived to purchase our permit when they opened at 8am, and were at the gates of the cutting area at 9am when they were opened. We cruised right in and found a parking spot in our favorite cutting area.
- Bring the snowshoes if you have them. Even though it felt like there hasn’t been as much snow this season, we threw the snowshoes in the back of the car and we were glad that we did. We walked pretty far up a hill and the snow was deep enough that the snowshoes made it much easier for us to trek through.
- Be prepared for the Charlie Brown tree, not the Rockefeller tree. The trees that we were choosing from are a little more sparse than what you are used to in the stores but each one was perfect in its own way.
- Know and follow the rules set out in the cutting area.
- Bring snacks! We saw people making a whole day of it. They brought tables, camp stoves, food, and drink. We had to be back down the mountain that afternoon so we all just brought a few snacks to share: muffins, crackers, meats and cheeses. Next year, we are making a day of it!
- Bring something to cut the tree down and something to tie it to your car. Most places do not provide these items.