Every year, my husband and I get together with some friends to carry out our annual tradition of cutting down our own Christmas tree for the holidays. We usually set out the day after Thanksgiving (instead of imbibing in the Black Friday revelry) and find our tree in the heart of Utah's gorgeous mountains. It's a great way to start off the Christmas season.
After years of cutting down trees, my friends and I have experienced two methods of acquiring a tree from the wild forests of Utah, which I will describe.
Method 1 (the die-hard method): Method 1 involves driving to Soldier Hollow on the first Friday or Saturday after Halloween to acquire a Christmas tree permit. These two days immediately following Halloween are the only two days that the Utah Department of the U.S. Forest Service (office closest to Salt Lake Valley and surrounding valleys) sells Christmas tree permits. The forest service limits the number of permits it sells to 1000 each day, for $10 per permit. You have to arrive long before 6 am at Soldier Hollow to get a place in a long line of people who are trying to do the same thing as you - hopefully getting a wristband that allows you to purchase a Christmas tree permit. The forest service hands out wristbands at 6 am and then starts selling the permits at 8 am. This method of acquiring a permit makes for a very tense and tired day, as you most likely have to wake up before 5 am to get to Soldier Hollow in time to get one of the very desirable permits. Once you have a permit, though, you are able to cut down a tree closer to Christmas time in any of the allowed forested places on the map that the forest service provides. Here's a link to more information on purchasing permits from forest services.
*There are actually several more forest service offices from which to purchase permits. I've only ever driving to Soldier Hollow, as that is the closest forest service to Salt Lake City.
Method 2 (the procrastinator method): Method 2 involves saving a trip to Soldier Hollow and just driving to Evanston, Wyoming on the day that you actually want to cut down a tree. You can purchase a Christmas tree permit for $10 at the forest ranger office in Evanston, then catch the Mirror Lake Highway into Utah to cut down a lovely Christmas tree. This method involves a gorgeous drive with beautiful views and is highly desirable.
Whichever method you decide to go with, remember to dress warmly; pack a saw to cut down the tree; haul rope or ties or bungees to hold your tree on top of your vehicle securely; bring a sled to help the kiddos along; and pack a lunch and treats to make a day out of it. This is really one of my favorite holiday traditions. The kids agree, too, that it's one of their favorite things to do close to Christmas.
I went to the Uinta Mountains, past Kamas & Woodland. You can also drive east of Kamas on the Mirror Lake Highway to find designated forest areas that the forest service gives you. Plan on a good day trip for this outing with kids.
#thesaltproject on your tree hunts!