Chopping down your own Christmas tree can be a magical experience when lifelong memories are made.  But before you take your axe to a tree, be sure you have a Christmas tree permit!

National Forests in Montana have Christmas tree permits available online; you can get fined without one. Christmas tree permit sales are available until December 31, 2022. Permits can be purchased at the ranger districts’ office or online at this link here. The Lolo National Forest offers tips on how to plan for your trip and how to cut and care for your tree. These tips can be applied anywhere you go to chop your tree.

Before leaving, measure the space in your home where you will place your tree. Measure the space of your vehicle too. Please print out your Christmas tree permit and bring it with you. Be sure to drive safely and stay alert for other hazards. Start your day early; get your trees and leave before it gets too dark. Bring lots of food, water, and an overnight survival kit in case you get stranded. Since some roads leading up to the forest may not be plowed, bring a shovel, tire chains, and tow chains. 

When you finally find your Christmas tree, make sure to cut it down inside the forest. Do not cut any trees on private land, wilderness areas, designated campgrounds, visible roads, and areas where new trees have been planted. Carefully carry your tree out of the forest; dragging it can rub the needles and bark off. The maximum tree length is twelve feet. The maximum stump diameter and height is six inches. Bring helpful tools like a handsaw to cut the tree, gloves, boots, rope, straps, and a tarp to put your tree in once it’s cut. 

Once your tree is home, cut the bottom part of the trunk off and place the newly cut trunk in a bucket of water. This technique is a good way for the tree to absorb water. Mist your tree with water regularly to keep it lush and hydrated. If you plan on storing your tree outside for a few days, keep it on the north or east side of the house to protect it from the wind. 

With these tips in mind, you are sure to have fun cutting down your Christmas tree and getting it ready for the holiday season!