In the year 2000, forty-nine percent of American homes had an artificial tree, but we think that fake trees look mighty funny in Colorado – especially if you can look out your window and see hundreds of gorgeous pine trees. Your six foot, perfectly shaped (and in the case of pre-lit trees, perfectly lit), evenly colored tree looks a little… suspicious.
Just about every grocery and hardware store will start selling “fresh” cut Christmas trees soon, but for optimum freshness and a great family activity, why not choose and cut your own tree? There are two places you can do this in Colorado Springs: the Merry Christmas Tree Farm and designated areas in Pike National Forest to find the perfect tree. Here’s the scoop:
The Merry Christmas Tree Farm is just off Highway 83 at Highway 105, near Monument. Chuck and Linda Staley sell Scotch pines and blue spruces in all shapes and sizes – it’s just $30 for a Scotch pine and $50 for a blue spruce. (Check out the wooly alpacas while you’re there!) Their hours for 2008 are from 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM on the day after Thanksgiving, and then every Saturday and Sunday until December 21st from 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM. They do provide saws for you to use to chop down your tree and twine to tie it onto your vehicle.
We got a Scotch pine from them last year and were very pleased! We kept our ten-foot-tall masterpiece up until the end of January, and it didn’t suffer from Dropping Needle Syndrome until the latter half of the second month. (Scotch pines are known for their needle-hardiness, though I must confess the drawback was that there was no evergreen smell.) We’re definitely going back this year!
The other option is to traipse through the Pike National Forest and cut down a tree for ten bucks. To me this sounds like the quintessential way to get a Christmas tree, you know, like they used to do on Little House on the Prairie. It’s probably not your best choice if you’re set on getting the *perfect* Christmas tree (you should probably stick to artificial if you use “perfect” and “tree” in the same sentence) but it really sounds like fun. For $10 each , I’d like to cut down two or three trees and use the extra as greenery for decorating.
There’s a limit of 5 permits per person and you’ll need to get your permits at the district office during the week or the Woodland Park Middle School on the weekends. Tree cutting is limited to designated areas so please check the map on the link above! There are Douglas fir, Lodgepole pine, Ponderosa pine, Englemann spruce, and Limber pine available and the forest service warns that these trees are “not as full” as those grown commercially. (I’ve heard of people that do a little bit of tree modification and chop branches from one part of the tree and drill a hole and insert them in the bare spot.)
By the way, just in case you’re thinking about taking one of those perfectly-shaped trees from a center median in town, you might want to think twice – the city sprays a smelly potion called “Scrooge” on various evergreens to discourage theft.
Got a picture of your family’s tree-cutting adventure in the Colorado Springs area? Send it to me and I’ll post it here, along with ours! We’re planning on getting ours the Sunday after Thanksgiving.
PS – No, we don’t pass right over Thanksgiving in order to celebrate Christmas. But I’ll admit one of the top things I’m thankful for is Christmas. 😉