Your Guide to Finding the Best Christmas Tree in Denver

Halloween has passed and Thanksgiving is around the corner! After the rough year we’ve had, many Denver residents are ready to get into the holiday spirit. Nothing spreads cheer like getting out the decor and taking part in your favorite holiday traditions. Whether you like to put up your Christmas tree before or after Thanksgiving, follow our guide for finding the perfect Denver tree!

The Christmas Tree is the ultimate holiday decoration, a symbol of light and hope that we could all use right now. It adds color, a fresh evergreen smell, and a warm glow to the ambiance of your home. For many, choosing and decorating a tree is a cherished tradition. There’s no wrong way to do it, cut-your-own or pre-cut, Denver has many fantastic options to choose from.

Follow this guide and choose your adventure to find the perfect Denver Christmas tree for your family!

Fresh Cut Denver Christmas Trees

Just can’t wait to get a tree up? A fresh-cut Christmas tree is the most popular option among Denver residents. You get all the benefits of a live tree such as the heavenly pine smell and full thick branches, without any of the time and labor involved in cutting down a tree!

If you’re in the market for a stress-free way to pick up a “non-artificial” tree, there are plenty of great fresh-cut options available. Here are some tips for choosing a high quality fresh-cut Denver Christmas tree:

  • To optimize the length of time a tree looks its best, seek out the freshest tree.
  • To check a pre-cut tree for freshness, look for flexible needles that remain firmly attached when you tug on them.
  • Choose tree varieties which can take indoor conditions.
  • Choose from a tree that grows naturally in Colorado’s climate such as: Concolor Fir, Douglas Fir, Scotch Pine, White Pine, and all Spruce varieties.
  • Douglas Firs naturally grow symmetrically t create a full, attractive Christmas tree, and they have a reputation for good needle retention.
  • White and Scotch Pines are tightly sheared when grown as Christmas trees to create a dense, full shape. Scotch pine is especially strong and will hold heavy ornaments easily.
  • Valued for their blue-green to silvery blue color, Colorado blue spruce is very popular as a Christmas tree. They tend to have attractive symmetrical growth and hold the heaviest ornaments well. They dry out very easily though!
  • Before you bring it home, ask the tree nursery to make a fresh cut on the bottom of your tree. Then, place in a stand with water immediately to preserve freshness.

Did You Know? Pre-Cut Tree Fast Facts from Denver’s Creekside Tree Nursery:

  • A Fresh-Cut Christmas Tree is a renewable resource.
  • Every Fresh-Cut Tree harvested will have two to three seedlings planted in its place.
  • It can take as many as 15 years to grow a tree of average retail sales height (6 feet), but the average growing time is 7 years.
  • A consumer must reuse an artificial tree for 20 years before it has a lower carbon footprint than a real tree.
  • There are about 15,000 Christmas Tree growers in North America, and over 100,000 people employed full or part-time in the industry.
  • There are about 1 million acres in production for growing Christmas trees. Each acre provides the daily oxygen requirements of 18 people.

When properly cared for, a fresh-cut picked out in early November will surely last you until New Years. Budget for spending between $100-160 for the most commonly sold trees sized 6 to 8 feet tall. 

Here are few different places to pick up your fresh-cut tree this holiday season:

Boulder County

  • Blue Ribbon Farm
  • Colorado Native Christmas Trees
  • Cottonwood Farm
  • CreekSide Tree Nursery Boulder
  • Munson Farm
  • Reindeer Ranch

Denver County

  • City Floral Garden Center
  • Neighborhood Christmas Tree Company
  • Tree Town Wonderland

The Natural Denver Christmas Tree

For some families, choosing the Christmas tree is magical day-long adventure. Bundling up and trekking out into the snow of one of the National Parks and forests in the Denver area on a quest for the perfect tree is sure to create treasured memories!

Not Your Picture Perfect Christmas Tree

If you’ve never cut your own tree from a national forest before, buyer beware: the trees are not picture perfect. Forest trees are more wild and authentic looking than farm raised Christmas trees. (Think Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree but on a larger scale.) Sometimes scraggly, often with a thinner trunk and irregular branches, naturally growing forest trees are perfect for the nature lover, or those planning a farmhouse inspired Christmas.

Respecting Our Parks and Forests

Love the idea of a natural tree but worried about the impact on Mother Earth? No need to feel guilty! According to the Forest Service, the thinning of forests that results from public Christmas tree-cutting reduces competition among trees, and actually promotes healthier growing conditions. As an added bonus, it even reduces the risk of wildfire! So, there’s no harm done in cutting down your own tree this year.

There are rules though, even in the wild. Stick to these guidelines from the Forest Service and plan accordingly:

  • Cut a tree that is 6 inches or less in diameter.
  •  No chainsaws; handsaws only.
  •  Snowmobiles, ATVs or other off-road vehicles are prohibited.
  •  Some areas require four-wheel-drive vehicles or chains. Check with the area you are choosing.
  •  Cutting trees marked with blue paint is prohibited.
  •  Cut trees within 4 inches of the ground, below all live limbs; Take the whole tree with you.
  •  Pets must be on a leash with their owners.
  • Stay off private property.
  • Observe designated entry times for the area you choose.

Where can I cut my own natural Denver Christmas Tree?

There are several national forest areas in the Denver Front Range area to choose from. Start your Christmas tree hunting adventure at any of these great destinations:

Pike and San Isabel National Forests

  • South Platte Ranger District
  • Leadville Ranger District
  • Salida Ranger District
  • Pikes Peak Ranger District
  • San Carlos Ranger District
  • South Park Ranger District

Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests

  • Canyon Lakes Ranger District: Red Feather Lakes
  • Sulphur Ranger District

White River National Forest

  • White River National Forest Christmas Tree information.

Permits & Procedures

A permit is required for cutting your own tree in a National park or forest and typically costs between $5-20. Christmas tree permits can be purchased from your local BLM office. Check out all the important details below from the Colorado Bureau of Land Management:

  • You must have a valid permit to cut and/or remove trees from BLM-managed public lands. Check with your local BLM field office as cutting areas, guidelines and restrictions vary. Tag prices and restrictions are different for trees cut on U.S. Forest Service land. 
  • No topping of trees.
  • Cut below lowest live limb – Leave stumps no higher than six inches.
  • Avoid damage to other trees.
  • Drive only on existing roads. Don’t block traffic when you park. Comply with road closures.
  • Do not trespass on or through private land. 
  • Stay on designated roads and respect private land. Some tree cutting areas may be inaccessible after snowfall – early season cutting is advisable.
  • Be safe and prepared. Check road and weather conditions before heading out. Make sure you have everything you need for an outdoor venture including warm clothes, food, water, and safety equipment. Let someone know where you’ll be going and when you plan to return.  If you get stranded, call for help, and stay with your group and vehicle until help arrives.
  • Please dispose of trees properly.  Consider composting or using for as firewood, if those are options available to you. 
  • Keep in mind that hunting seasons are usually open during these times, so wearing brighter colors may be advisable.

Trekking out to cut your own natural tree is not for the faint of heart, but your efforts are sure to be rewarded with amazing family memories!

The Living Christmas Tree

Once a tree is cut, it’s days are numbered. But what if there was a more sustainable Christmas tree option? A living Christmas tree comes in a pot and can be reused after the holidays. 

Did you know? Fun Facts:

  • Living Trees not only provide seasonal enjoyment inside your home, but they’re an added investment to your outdoor landscape!
  • They’re an environmentally green choice.
  • They’re a great way to build traditions and memories with your family that can be enjoyed long after you purchase and plant it.
  • Many families plant a new tree each year and love watching it grow with the family.

When choosing a living Christmas tree it’s important to on select from varieties that will thrive in Colorado. Try one of these species:

  • Colorado Spruce
  • Norway Spruce
  • White Spruce
  • Columnar Spruce
  • Serbian Spruce
  • Dwarf Spruce 
  • Ponderous Pine
  • White Pine

How long will a Living Christmas Tree Last?

Take note that caring for a living tree can be tricky!  A living tree can be shocked when cut and moved indoors to the dry, heated environment of your living room. It might even get confused and start to “change seasons” by rebudding. For best results, living Christmas trees should be used only about three weeks before Christmas. However, the beauty of cutting and enjoying a living tree is that if it is properly cared for, you can replant it in your own yard right after the holidays!

 

This year, skip the stocked trees at Costco and make a day of selecting the perfect Denver Christmas tree! Whether you opt for the pre-cut, natural, or living tree, Denver’s evergreen varieties are sure to impress and kick things off the right way this holiday season.