trees

Christmas tree permits will be available to purchase online through recreation.gov beginning November 16 for the Payson and Pleasant Valley ranger districts. Details about designated cutting areas, dates and types of trees that may be cut will be posted on the Tonto National Forest website by November.

“Many families find a Christmas tree from their National Forest a unique treasure and have continued the tradition over the years,” said Acting Forest Supervisor Tom Torres. “For families creating new traditions or continuing this time-honored tradition, a trip to their local forest to cut their own Christmas tree is an exciting experience that can bring families closer together.”

The Forest Service decided to move permit sales to recreation.gov as an added convenience for visitors, as well as to provide an alternative to in-person transactions at offices that may remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

To purchase a Christmas tree permit, visit recreation.gov and search for “Tonto National Forest Christmas tree permits.” It is important to carefully read the overview and need-to-know information prior to purchasing the permit. Visitors will also need to set up or login to a recreation.gov account to complete the transaction.

Christmas trees permits are available for free with an Every Kid in the Park pass, but a transaction fee will be charged if purchased through recreation.gov. These online permits are valid through December 31.

Christmas tree permits can also be purchased over the phone or by mail at the following district ranger stations: 

•Cave Creek Ranger District, 480-595-3300, 40202 N. Cave Creek Road, Scottsdale.

•Mesa Ranger District, 480-610-3300, 5140 E. Ingram Street, Mesa, Arizona.

•Payson Ranger District, 928-474-7900, 1009 E. Highway 260, Payson.

Permits sold through the district ranger stations are valid through December 24.

Cutting a Christmas tree also improves forest health. The permit system helps to thin densely populated stands of small-diameter trees. Local forest health experts identify areas that benefit from thinning trees that tend to be the perfect size for Christmas trees. Removing these trees in designated areas helps other trees grow larger and can open areas that provide forage for wildlife.