What better way is there to get in the holiday spirit than to don coats and hats and gloves, and walk through the woods in search of that perfect Christmas tree, cut down with your own tools by your own hands? It is a family holiday tradition that many in Arizona cherish, but there is some very important preparation involved. For you see, you cannot just load up the family and the dog into the SUV, drive up north and begin your search.
You must have a permit to cut a Christmas tree. Here is what you need to know about this year's process for getting a Christmas tree tag.
In 2008 drawings and online applications for Christmas tree tags were eliminated. Now, you have to go to a designated forest service office to purchase a tag. When they run out, they run out. Tag prices are $15 each for tree up to 10 feet tall.
Here is what you need to know:
- In order to harvest that perfect Christmas tree, you must obtain a tag (permit).
- Companies, organizations or schools may not apply. Tree permits are for personal use only.
- Only individuals/families may purchase a tag and the tree must be used in their household.
- Along with your tag, you will receive a map showing your tag’s cutting area, tree-cutting instructions, safety precaution reminders and a tree identification fact sheet.
- There is no way to replace your tag if you lose it and there are no refunds if you can't use it.
- In previous years, some permits were also sold at Big 5 Sporting Goods, but that is no longer offered.
Fourth Grade Special
All fourth graders are eligible for a free Christmas tree permit, while supplies last, through the Every Kid in a Park initiative. Every Kid in a Park is a nationwide call to action to build the next generation of conservationists.
All fourth graders are eligible to receive a fourth grade pass that allows free access to federal lands and waters across the country for a full year. The Forest Service is making available a free Christmas tree permit to every interested fourth grader with a fourth grade pass. In order to receive a free Christmas tree permit, the fourth grader must be present with parent or guardian at one of the mentioned Ranger Stations with the fourth grade pass.
Christmas Tree Permits for Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest
Trees may be harvested through December 24, 2016. Christmas tree-cutting tags will be sold beginning October 1, 2016 through December 24, 2016 at the following locations:
30 S. Chiricahua Dr., Springerville, AZ 85938
Alpine Ranger District
42634 Hwy. 180/191, Alpine, AZ 85920
Black Mesa Ranger District
2748 East AZ 260, Overgaard, AZ 85933
Clifton Ranger District
397240 AZ75, Duncan, AZ 85534
Lakeside Ranger District
2022 W White Mtn. Blvd., Lakeside, AZ 85929
Springerville Ranger District
165 S. Mountain Ave., Springerville, AZ 85938
Christmas Tree Permits for Kaibab National Forest
The Kaibab National Forest will sell over-the-counter and through-the-mail Christmas tree tags on a first-come, first-served basis for each of its three ranger districts beginning November 16 and continuing until they are sold out.
Christmas trees may be cut from November 16 through December 24, 2016.
- 800 permits (any species) are available in the North Kaibab Ranger District located at 430 S. Main St., Fredonia, AZ 86022, phone 928-643-7395. The office is open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding holidays, and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on two Saturdays, Nov. 26 and Dec. 3, for tag sales. The mailing address is P.O. Box 248, Fredonia, AZ 86022. The Kaibab Plateau Visitor Center will be open Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Dec. 11 for tag sales. The visitor center is located at the intersection of highways 89 and 67 in Jacob Lake, phone 928-643-7298.
- 500 permits (pinon or juniper) are available at the Tusayan Ranger District at 176 Lincoln Log Loop, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023, phone 928-638-2443. The hours are 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. The mailing address is P.O. Box 3088, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023
- 500 permits (pinon or juniper) are available at Williams Ranger District at 742 S. Clover Rd., Williams, AZ 86046, phone 928-635-5600. The mailing address is the same. The office will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. The Williams Ranger District office will also have 100 tags available for the Tusayan Ranger District.
Individuals can also purchase a Christmas tree tag for Kaibab National Forest through the mail by sending information to the mailing address of the ranger district they plan to visit. Call first! If you will order by mail, make sure you do so leaving enough time for processing and return mail, 10-12 business days. For a Christmas tree tag through the mail, you must include a self-addressed, stamped envelope (Attn: Christmas Trees), a contact phone number and a check payable to USDA Forest Service.
Christmas Tree Permits for Prescott National Forest
About 500 tags will be available for Prescott National Forest, all of which must be purchased in person at two of the three Ranger Districts beginning November 19, 2016: Bradshaw (928-443-8000), Chino Valley 928-777-2200; Verde (928-567-4121) begins sales on November 21, 2016. Most of the tags will be sold from the Bradshaw office, but call first to see if the particular office has any tags left before you drive up. Maximum one permit per household. Trees may be harvested between November 19 and December 24, 2016.
Christmas Tree Permits for Coconino National Forest
Only 600 permits available, sold out of three Ranger Stations: Flagstaff (928-526-0866), Blue Ridge (928-477-2255) and Forest Supervisor (928-527-3600). Sales begin on November 18, 2016. One tag per household. Since number are so limited, and you can only purchase the tags at these offices, call first to see if the particular office has any tags left before you drive up.
Christmas Tree Permits for Tonto National Forest
Tonto National Forest will sell Christmas tree permits beginning Wednesday, November 16, 2016. Permits will be available at Mesa, Payson, and Pleasant Valley Ranger Districts and at the Supervisors Office at the hours and listed here (call for hours). Trees may be cut between Nov. 18 and Dec. 24.
2324 E. McDowell Rd., Phoenix
Mesa Ranger District
5140 E. Ingram St., Mesa
Payson Ranger District
1009 E. Highway 260, Payson
Pleasant Valley Ranger District
154 S. Ranger Station Rd., Young
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Here is a map of the national forests within Arizona. Without an application drawing process, it's obvious that 'first come, first served' is the name of the game. When tags run out, no more will become available.
For more information visit the Forest Service online.
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Tree lightings, holiday lights, festivals, holiday music and entertainment, gift guides and holiday travel tips -- find them all in the Christmas Holidays Guide for Greater Phoenix.
All prices and dates are subject to change without notice.