By Melissa Wynn

One of my favorite family Christmas traditions is spending the day wandering the forest in search of the perfect Christmas tree. Memorable adventures are created by simply packing a picnic and making a day of choosing and cutting the tree as a family.

Whether you prefer a majestic blue spruce or a spindly “Charlie Brown”  style tree in need of rescue, you can usually harvest it from your nearest National Forest with the proper permit. Prices and limits can vary by forest so here are a few of our favorites near you.

Lassen National Forest – (530) 257-2151 (Supervisor’s Office, Susanville) Permit is $10.00 per permit, limit five trees per household. Permits available at Ranger Districts November 1 through December 12. Old Station Visitor Center will be open Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through December 14. Open select weekends. Call for specific district office days and hours.

Plumas National Forest – (530) 283-2050 (Supervisor’s Office, Quincy) Permit is $10.00 (One tree); limit two trees per household; mail-ins by December 1 for all designated areas in the forest. Beckwourth, Feather River and Mt. Hough Ranger Districts sell in person, open 8:00-4:30 Monday through Friday. Additionally, permits may be purchased at the Supervisor’s Office, Greenville Information and Work Center (Thu/Fri only) during the week (530) 284-7126. Call for current information.

Modoc National Forest – (530) 233-5811 (Supervisor’s Office, Alturas) Permit is $10.00 for each permit (two trees) at the Modoc National Forest headquarters , weekdays in Alturas and District offices in Adin, Cedarville and Tule Lake. Two permits per household. Permits available for 11/17 to 12/24.

Shasta Trinity National Forest – (530) 226-2500 (Supervisor’s Office, Redding) Permit is $10.00; limit one tree per household. A maximum of 5 permits may be purchased. Permits sold 11/03 through 12/24. Mail-in requests to the Supervisor’s Office, allow 7-10 days. Ranger Districts sell in person. Call for days and hours.

Klamath National Forest – (530) 842-6131 (Supervisor’s Office, Yreka) Permit is $10.00 per permit; limit one tree per household. A maximum of 5 permits may be purchased for separate families. Permits issued in person or mail-in to Supervisor’s Office. Check Ranger Districts for hours.

Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit – (530) 543-2600 Permit is $10 (2 permits/family); pine, fir, or cedar. Permit sold at the LTBMU Supervisor’s Office, 35 College Drive, South Lake Tahoe, beginning November 24, Monday through Friday 8:00 am to 4:30 pm until the permit supply is exhausted.

The Eldorado National Forest does not issue Christmas tree permits since there are over 30 local Christmas Tree farms in the area. Many of these also provide food, crafts, activities, and a chance to visit with Santa Claus. Look for more information on local Christmas Tree farms at

For a full listing of 2016 tree permit contacts visit the experts the USDA Forest Service at