Artificial trees are convenient, but it’s hard to beat a freshly cut Christmas tree. If you’re on the hunt for one this weekend, you might not know that you can cut your own in a national forest! The USDA Forest Service sells permits through its website and they’re  cheaper than grabbing your tree from a lot.

Not sure if you have a national forest near you? Head to and search by your state. A list of areas in your state will pop up below the search box and if you click on one of the results, you’ll be directed to a page where you can purchase a tree permit. Or you can view the interactive map that identifies forests in your area.

Courtesy of the Forest Service

Most permits are $20 and each forest has specific guidelines and cutting dates. Make sure you read the “Need to Know” section so you’re selecting the proper tree. The Forest Service recommends bringing a measuring tape, a handsaw, gloves and a rope or straps, if you’re securing the tree to the outside of your vehicle.

As a final bonus, when you cut your own tree you help contribute to the overall forest health by thinning densely populated stands of smaller trees. Grab your permit and make some memories this weekend!

—Sarah Shebek

Featured image courtesy of Any Lane, Pexels



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