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Places to Cut Your Own Tree

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Holiday revelers have plenty of options when it comes to finding the perfect Christmas tree. They can buy artificial timber preloaded with lights and ornaments. Or, they can opt for the real deal, selecting a Colorado spruce or Douglas fir from one of the many precut vendors who set up shop this time of year.

(photo by Istockphoto.com)

But there’s nothing quite like assembling one’s family for a trek to cut down a live tree. The mission requires plenty of preparation — like donning layer upon layer to keep Jack Frost at bay. But the result is a tree closest to the one you’ve been dreaming of all year.

Tree shoppers also can bypass the ranches and farms listed here and go straight to nature. Beginning in early November, the Colorado State Forest Service sells permits for $10 per tree. Permits are currently available from the Golden District office (1504 Quaker St., Golden, 303-279-9757). People hoping to take this route should get their permits early because they do run out, says Jeff Thomas, campaign coordinator for Colorado Forest Products, a consumer-awareness program funded by CSFS. Cutting trees on federal land requires a different permit from the U.S. Forest Service. For those Colorado district office locations, visit fs.fed.us.

1.  Windsors’ Christmas Trees

Visitors to this farm will be treated to complimentary cider, coffee and hay rides. Once they get down to business they can select from several tree species, including Scotch pine.

The Windsors’ farm is a family affair, with the owners’ daughter supplying seasonal wreaths to enhance the tree selection.

Co-owner Janice Windsor advises visitors to make sure the young ones are bundled up and allow for at least an hour to find and cut the right tree.

33741 Colorado 257, Windsor, 970-686-5253; windsorstrees.com

2.  Fern Hill Farm

Owner Clifford Clift says not every customer wants a thick, beautifully shaped Christmas tree.

“We get a lot of people who want ‘Charlie Brown’ trees,” Clift says.

Farm visitors ride a hay wagon out to see the trees in question, primarily Scotch pine.

“We’re in a high mountain desert,” Clift explains. “We don’t have the humidity to grow the firs.”

Clift’s employees help customers shake the trees out to rid them of dead needles and then load them onto vehicles. After Fern Hill trees leave the farm, a half-inch should be cut off the trunk, and the tree should be put into water right away. “Our trees don’t dry out if you keep them watered,” he says.

2001 Fern Ave., Greeley, 970-352-4478; fernhillfarm-christmastrees.com

3.  Christmas Tree Acres

Co-owner Bill Gerke wants first-time tree shoppers to know the task at hand isn’t a case of “Mission: Impossible.”

“It’s easy to cut a Christmas tree,” Gerke says. “The wood is very soft. Even a grandmother could do it.”

The farm has been selling cut-your-own trees since 1986.

Gerke says putting up one of his Scotch pines means the tree in question is acclimated to the local weather. That might not be the case for precut trees shipped from out-of-state. A tree on a lot could lose its natural moisture before it’s even purchased, he says.

“You can’t buy a fresher tree than the tree you cut yourself,” Gerke says.

23003 County Road 39, La Salle, 970-284-6061

4.  U Cut Tree Farm

Co-owner Mary Rossi says customers can select trees from their 80-acre lot that includes Scotch pines, Douglas fir and blue spruce.

U Cut customers don’t even have to leave their cars for much of the process. Visitors get an information sheet about the tree-cutting process when they arrive. Then they drive through the rows of trees so they can sample the selection without turning off the car’s heater. Chainsaws are a no-no.

Just remember trees seen from the car may be bigger than they appear thanks to the sloping grounds, Rossi says.

11200 Colorado 83, Franktown, 303-660-4770

5.  Merry Christmas Tree Farm

Co-owner Linda Staley says she and her husband first planted Christmas trees on their farm in 1986.

It took a good eight years for a 6-foot “sellable” tree to appear.

“Christmas trees are one of the most labor-intensive agricultural crops,” she says, adding that Colorado’s semi-arid soil conditions mean plenty of seedlings don’t survive.

Staley’s farm allows dogs on the premises, something customers often appreciate.

“It seems like a lot of people consider the dog (to be) part of the family,” she says. Just make sure man’s best friend is on a leash. The Staleys’ farm also houses alpacas, and they don’t take kindly to unleashed pets.

Staley says a fresh-cut Christmas tree can stay green through February or even March.

18520 Shannon Road, Black Forest, 719-481-4946; pikespeakalpacas.com

6.  Christmas Trees at the Covered Bridge

Finding just the right Christmas tree at this facility requires traveling over a stream. It also can include slurping down some hot apple cider, roasting marshmallows and watching some of the farm’s Clydesdale horses.

Owner Gary Riessen says his location boasts eight Christmas tree varieties for cutting, including Colorado spruce, Black Hills spruce, Norway spruce, Douglas fir and Scotch pine.

Riessen advises visitors to wear weather-appropriate shoes, although historically that isn’t always the case.

“You’ll have ladies with high- heeled, open-sandal type shoes,” he says. “Many times they can get away with it.”

17249 6250 Road, Montrose, 970-240-0106

7.  Colt Ranch

Owner J.S. Colt says his location’s soil doesn’t allow him to grow as many types of trees as some other farms. But he promises his ranch’s amenities make up for the lack of selection. Holiday visitors can take carriage and stagecoach rides, hike or even go for a mountain bike ride.

“It’s all on private property, so we don’t have the restrictions of the National Forest sites that offer Christmas trees,” Colt says.

Colt’s crew will take visitors out to the tree grounds so they can get an idea of the size and style of tree they’re hunting for.

“If they’ve never cut a tree before, we’ll help them do it,” he says of their hands-on approach. Chainsaws are permitted for those who aren’t strangers to Christmas-tree cutting.

10,000 County Road 43.6, Trinidad, 719-845-0353; coltranch.com

Click here for a map of the above locations and to see the original post on The Denver Post: Outside Guide: Places to cut your own tree – Joys of cutting your own tree.  Writing piece by Christian Toto

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