Due to the pandemic, families have a lot more time on their hands and could use a good day trip out of town to get some fresh air and a change of scenery. With the Christmas holiday right around the corner, many homes are stringing up their lights and decorating but may still need to pick up the ever essential Christmas tree. Due to the pandemic, many families have a lot more time on their hands and could use a good day trip out of town to get some fresh air and a change of scenery.  A great day or weekend trip could be a trip to go pick and cut down your own Christmas tree. The US Department of Agriculture Forest Service is allowing people to purchase permits to cut down their own Christmas trees in various national forests in the Southwest region. There are 3 National Forests in our region that are a day trip from the area that offer special Christmas tree permits. The permits are available for purchase through the National Forest Service website. The three forests are:

Christmas tree permits purchased through the National Forest website have a $2.50 processing fee in addition to the permit cost. The Gila National Forest and Lincoln National Forest offer in-person or curbside permit pick-up. You can call the Gila National Forest at (575) 388-8201 or the Lincoln National Forest at (575) 434-7200 to determine availability. The Cibola National Forest only offers online purchases.

If you have a child in the 4th or 5th grade, they could qualify for a free Christmas tree through the Every Kid Outdoors program. Find out more information about that program at the Every Kid Outdoors website.

If you plan to head out and cut down your own Christmas tree this year, make sure you plan ahead for your day trip. Make sure you dress warm since the mountain areas are usually 15 to 20 degrees colder and the weather can change quickly. Call the ranger station before you head out to make sure you are up-to-date on road and weather conditions in the area. Also, pack extra supplies like a first-aid kit, water, and food in case of an emergency.

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