For a measly $5, you can both enjoy a family outing building lifelong memories in the great Pacific Northwest outdoors and come home with the freshest of the fresh Christmas tree.
If you are extremely resourceful, and perhaps a bit greedy, or have a lot of friends and family, you can cut down a total of five trees for $25.
You can get your Christmas tree in the Olympic National Forest by first obtaining a permit. This permit allows you to cut a Christmas tree within the Olympic National Forest.
Trees may be cut from along roads, from forest plantations and in the understory of older stands. Cut trees only if there is a standing tree within 10 feet to avoid denuding areas. Do not cut trees within 100 feet of campgrounds or trailheads.
Christmas tree cutting is prohibited within the Quinault Special Management Area, designated wilderness and Research Natural Areas.
Selecting your tree
Any evergreen is available for cutting except Western White Pine. The maximum tree height is 15 feet. Do not remove the top of the tree; cut down the entire tree. Washington State Law requires a hauling permit for hauling more than five trees on/in a vehicle at one time.
Planning your trip
You must print and bring your Christmas Tree Permit with you. Cell service may be spotty or unavailable. Be sure someone knows where you are and when to expect you back. Check the latest weather conditions, forest warnings and road closures before you leave on your trip, conditions can deteriorate rapidly in the mountains.
Bring a map with you. Don’t rely on GPS because it may not be up-to-date with forest service roads. Dress warmly and take extra dry clothes. Expect winter weather, including cold temperatures, snow and winds.
Roads are not plowed. Carry tire chains, shovel(s) and a tow chain.
Helpful cutting tips
If the tree is too big to transport inside of your vehicle, wrap it in canvas to prevent wind damage. Once home, cut the bottom of the trunk off and place the freshly cut trunk in a bucket of water. Replenish water.
If storing your tree outside for a few days before putting it in the house, keep it in an area protected from the wind, such as the north or east side of your house or under a shaded tree.
Tools you might want to consider bringing with you include a measuring tape to ensure you select a tree that fits in your home; handsaw to cut your tree; gloves to protect your hands; boots to protect your feet; a tarp to sit on and/or to move your tree once it’s cut; and rope or straps to secure your tree to your vehicle.
Christmas tree permits are available at National Forest Service offices during business hours and some private businesses near forests. For a $2.50 service fee, they also can be purchased online at recreation.gov/tree-permits by searching for a specific national forest.
Permits are sold separately for each national forest and can only be used in that forest.
If there is a fourth-grader in the household, they are eligible to cut a Forest Service Christmas tree for free by signing up for an Every Kid Outdoors pass, which are available at everykidoutdoors.gov, and taking a paper copy to a Forest Service office to obtain a permit.
Contact the Forest Service
Hood Canal Ranger District
295142 Hwy 101 South
Quilcene, WA 98376
Olympic National Forest Supervisor’s Office
1835 Black Lk Blvd SW
Olympia, WA 98512
Pacific Ranger District
353 South Shore Road
Quinault, WA 98575