Grab some hot cocoa, a saw, your permit, and bundle up for a fun holiday tradition of cutting your own Christmas tree. While the 48th state isn’t always known for its pine trees, there are actually many forests that allow you to cut your own Christmas tree in Arizona!
Can you cut down your own Christmas tree in Arizona?
You can actually cut down your own tree in Arizona but not without a permit. There are several forests that allow tree cutting during specific dates at the end of the year. You do need to secure a permit for each tree you want to cut down before you head out. Some forests sell out quickly so planning ahead is key.
Where can you cut down your own Christmas tree in Arizona?
Where you cut down your tree will depend on what permit you purchase. Each forest has maps in different areas on Recreation.gov to show were you can choose a tree. You just need to make sure that you aren’t on private land, in a wilderness area, in a designated campground, or in an existing tree plantation. You also don’t want to cut in active timber sales or areas planted with new trees. Stick to the maps provided.
*Tip: We highly recommend the onX maps app. Download the area you’ll be going to before you head out and it will use GPS not your phone signal since that will be spotty. Any of the onX maps will show you what forest you’re on, where the boundaries are for private land etc. It’s also just smart to have safety-wise.
Here are the links to find the maps for each forest (on the left menu choose “maps”):
- Apache Sitgreaves National Forest
- Coconino National Forest
- Kaibab National Forest
- Prescott National Forest
- Tonto National Forest
How to get a Christmas Tree Permit in Arizona?
You can purchase tree permits for all National Forests in Arizona on Recreation.gov. For some of the forests you’ll need to get a permit specific to the area you’re cutting in. Some areas sell out quickly so plan ahead and know what area you’ll want!
Here are the sites for all permits in Arizona. Be sure to check out the timeline below to verify when each goes on sale and cutting dates.
- Apache Sitgreaves National Forest – max 3 trees $15 per permit
- Coconino National Forest – max 1 tree, will need to buy for a specific area, $15 per permit
- Kaibab National Forest – max 5 trees, permits purchased for specific areas, $15 per permit
- Prescott National Forest – max 1 tree, $20 per permit
- Tonto National Forest – no info available yet for this year’s cost or max number of trees
When to buy a permit to cut your own Christmas tree in Arizona?
Each forest has it’s own on sale date, season dates (when you can cut) and details on cutting down your own tree, so once you decide where you want to go, check out the site below for all the info you’ll need. I recommend having a backup plan since some sites are more popular than others.
Here are the dates for each forest for the 2022 season:
- Apache Sitgreaves National Forest – Season dates 10/13 – 12/31
- Coconino National Forest – on sale now. Season dates 11/18 – 12/31
- Kaibab National Forest – Season dates 11/1 – 12/31
- Prescott National Forest – Season dates 11/1 – 12/31
- Tonto National Forest – on sale now. Season dates 11/19-12/31
Tips on cutting down your own Christmas tree in Arizona
Here are just a few tips for cutting down your own tree in Arizona if you’ve never done it before:
- Print out your permits and maps/tips from recreation.gov ahead of time. You have to have the permit with you.
- Download a GPS map that does not rely on having a phone signal (onX is great).
- Check the tree maximum sizes before heading out & have a plan to measure your tree.
- Scout an area ahead of time if you’re not sure. If you are unsure of the areas take a day to check out some spots before you go.
- Safety first – check the weather, have plenty of fuel, warm clothes/blankets in the car, food, water etc.