Harvesting a Christmas Tree

Have you ever thought about heading into the woods and cutting your own Christmas tree? If you haven’t considered it, you should!

This was our first year cutting our own tree, and it was a great learning experience!

How Much Does it Cost?

A tree permit costs $5 in all of the forests listed below EXCEPT Snoqualmie-Baker – tree permits there are $10.

Do you happen to have a 4th grader? Then your tree permit is FREE! This is made possible by the Every Kid in a Park Initiative, which you can learn more about here.

Gifford Pinchot NF dusted in snow

Where to Harvest:

Forest locations:

Ranger Stations:

Gifford Pinchot National Forest Headquarters 
1501 E. Evergreen Blvd, Vancouver, WA 98661
Hours: Tues-Sat 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (360) 891-5001
Mt. Adams Ranger District 
2455 Highway 141, Trout Lake, WA  98650
Office Hours: Mon to Fri 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (closed for lunch) (509) 395-3400
Cowlitz Valley Ranger District
10024 US Hwy 12 – PO Box 670, Randle, WA  98377
Office Hours:  Mon to Fri 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (closed for lunch) (360) 497-1100
Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument  
42218 NE Yale Bridge Rd., Amboy, WA  98607
Office Hours:  Mon to Fri 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (360) 449-7800
Tree Permit 2.png
Christmas Tree Permit 

Buy Your Tree Permit:

You can buy tree permits from either a ranger station located within the forest you’ll get your tree from (they’re location specific and nonrefundable) or you can pick one up at one of the vendors listed below:

  • Amboy: Amboy Market (360) 247-5421
    • Chelatchie Prairie General Store (360) 247-5529
  • Ashford: Ashford General Store (360) 569-2377
    • Ashford Valley Grocery (360) 569-2560
  • Carson: Wind River Market (509) 427-5565
    • Lakeside Country Store (360) 238-5202
  • Cougar: Cougar Store (360) 238-5228
    • Lone Fir Resort (360) 283-5210
  • Elbe: Elbe Mall (360) 569-2772
    • Elbe Junction (360) 524-7707
  • Home Valley: Home Valley Store (509) 427-4015
  • Kalama: Kalama Spirits and Tobacco (360) 673-4991
  • Kelso: Sportsman’s Warehouse (360) 423-2600
  • Packwood: Blanton’s Market (360) 494-6101
  • Randle: Fischer’s Market (360) 497-5355
    • Randle One Stop (360) 497-3261
  • Stevenson: Main St. Convenience Store (open 24 hours) (509) 427-5653
  • Trout Lake: Little Mountain (True Value) Hardware (509) 395-2773
  • Vancouver: Sportsman’s Warehouse (360) 604-8000
Our tree!

Picking a Tree

  • Search for your tree at least 150 feet from lakes, streams, ponds, or any wetland area
  • Avoid developed areas such as campsites or buildings
  • Choose a tree under 12 feet in height, and less than 6 inches in diameter
  • Try to find your tree in a crowded area, so one area does not become void of trees
  • Leave as short of a stump as possible (no more than 6 inches above the ground)
  • If you dig your tree out of the ground please remember to fill up the hole

Anything Else?

Yes! Be prepared for snowy conditions! Chances are that you’ll be encountering snow while on the hunt for the perfect tree. As always, this means you’ll want to take some precautions:

  • Tell someone where you are going
    • There is often no cellular service in these areas
  • Bring plenty of warm, water resistant, and snow specific clothes
  • Check that you have the 10 Essentials
  • Double check the weather and leave early to maximize daylight
  • Bring a vehicle that is capable of handling snowy conditions
    • Chains and a shovel are always a good precaution
  • Don’t forget warm drinks and extra food!
Drive with Caution


Northwest Avalanche Center: Check the avalanche conditions

USDA Forest Service Guide to Cutting a Christmas Tree

USDA Guide [PDF]

NOAA: Check the weather



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