It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Are you planning on creating a fun family experience and cutting down your own Christmas tree in the forest?
Then continue reading to find out how to get the perfect Christmas tree for just $7.50 in Central Oregon’s backyard. In this post, we’ll cover everything from how to get a tree permit to where to head to find the right type of tree.
Cutting your own tree
Heading up to the mountains and into the forest to hunt for the perfect Christmas tree is a fun and festive way to get outdoors during the holiday season. Kids love the adventure and will always remember the annual tradition of the Christmas tree cutting. Plus, there’s nothing better than the citrusy smell of a fresh-cut fir.
Although it’s possible to cut down your own treen in many parts of Oregon, living in Bend, Oregon, clearly has the advantage of being surrounded by the Deschutes National Forest. Bend’s west edge almost entirely borders the Deschutes National Forest, providing easy access to a huge outdoor playground.
There are many different locations where you can track down your tree. However, a personal favorite is to head up to the radio tower on Bearwallow road just past Skyliner Sno-Park. At higher elevations, you’ll find more fir trees, which means a picture-perfect Christmas tree to call your own and put up in your living room. Plus, the journey up there offers excellent views of Mount Bachelor on a sunny day.
Below is everything you need to know about how to find your you-cut Christmas tree just outside of Bend, Oregon. Let’s start with the tree permit.
How to get an Oregon Christmas tree permit
Before you head out, you will need to purchase your Oregon Christmas tree permit online or at local vendors.
You can buy it online at Recreation.gov for $7.50, which was very easy and fast. All you need to do is sign up by creating an account with your name and email. Then select how many trees you will cut (it’s $5 per tree), pay (a $2.50 reservation fee will be added when purchasing online), and print the permit. Now you’re good to go. Of course, don’t forget to bring the printed permit with you in the car when you head into the forest to cut your tree.
Choosing a tree
When you are out in the National Forest on your Christmas tree hunt, there are some rules you have to follow. These include:
- Cutting a tree with a max height of 12 feet.
- Cut the stump shorter than 12 inches.
- Cut down the entire tree, not just the top.
- Only cut a tree that is within 20 feet of another one.
- Remove branches from the leftover stump and scatter them on the ground.
Ideally, you want to find and cut out a tree in a densely forested area since it will help the remaining trees get more sunshine and grow. In either case, be sure to read the guidelines on the backside of your permit.
Where to cut your own Christmas tree around Bend, Oregon
You can pretty much head up anywhere into the Cascade Mountains from Bend. For the easiest access, head up Cascade Lakes Highway towards Mt. Bachelor. You’ll find several pull-offs on the drive where you can park and head into the forest to find a tree. Leaving from Bend, it will take about 20 to 30 minutes to head west into the Deschutes National Forest, where you can find yourself a beautiful fir.
Our favorite spot is up near Tumalo Falls if you want to head more off the beaten path.
To reach this spot, you’ll head west on Skyliners Road towards Skyliner Sno-Park and Tumalo Falls. Once you’ve crossed the small bridge over Tumalo Creek, you will see a parking area on the left in front of the gate to the Tumalo Falls Road. That’s where you make a right turn and stay on the main road, which is Bearwallow Road.
You’ll continue on this road past one switchback, then climb a bit more until the road starts to level off. This is close to the radio tower that you can see from Bend. Now you’ve gained quite a lot of elevation, increasing your chance of finding a gorgeous holiday tree. If there has already been a snowstorm of the season, you’ll likely only want to attempt reaching the upper elevations with a 4WD and all-terrain tires.
As you can see in our photos from early December, there was quite a lot of snow up in the mountains, even though there is no snow in Bend. Just make sure you are prepared for snowy conditions and have the proper gear to stay safe.
You will also want to be sure to pack some rope or tie-down straps to securely fasten the tree on top of your car when bringing it back home. And the most important thing for chopping down your own Christmas tree – bring a small hand saw.
Your own Christmas tree hunt is a fun and enjoyable holiday tradition with your family. Hunting for and cutting down your own Christmas tree creates memories and makes it much more of an adventure than buying one from a lot. You could even combine this adventure with a snowshoeing trip or cross-country skiing to get even farther into the forest to less accessible areas.
- Know where you are going
- Check cell service
- Make sure you have a full tank of gas
- Pack warm clothes and drinks
- Wear winter boots
- Bring a first aid kit
- Research and be aware of road closures
- Learn what tree species you can cut