Recently, an acquaintance of mine mentioned how much fun her family had cutting down their own Christmas tree near Jemez. With eyes raised, I thought to myself, “That must be illegal!” But much to my surprise, I learned that New Mexico offers the sale of Christmas tree permits in various forests of the state.
From $5 to $10 per permit, your family can have a real Griswold experience tromping through the forest to find that perfect Christmas tree.
Discover what forests in New Mexico are available for Christmas tree permits here. Permits can be purchased at forest service offices or the ranger district. Be sure to read all the information as there are varying costs and rules for each forest. And to be safe, call ahead to the ranger district office. Upon purchasing a permit, you will receive a tree tag as well as a map (showing what areas you are allowed to cut in) and guidelines for cutting your tree. Permits are available up until Christmas Eve.
The closest allowed area near Albuquerque is the Santa Fe National Forest near Jemez. You can find more information at the Santa Fe National Forest website or give the Jemez Ranger District office a call at (575) 829-3535.
So, did my family take advantage of this yuletide service? Of course!
With a saw in the trunk and applesauce pouches packed, we set out Thanksgiving weekend on our quest to purchase a permit. However, we were quickly thwarted as we had assumed we could cut a tree wherever we wanted in Cibola National Forest. We intended on making the short drive to the Sandias, chopping a cute little tree and arriving back home for lunch. I had not done my research well enough (good thing this post is here to save you such mistakes)!
The closest allowed area within the Cibola National Forest is near Magdalena. With a sense of adventure, we decided to make the trek south. Next, we stopped at the Magdalena Ranger District Office, bought our permit and with map in hand set out. Finally, we found a fabulous tree that we miraculously stuffed inside our trunk for the interstate ride back to Albuquerque. This is where I give a huge shout out to Ranger Parker who sent us on our way with a bag full of ranger office goodies for our kids and then so kindly mailed me my wallet that I left in his office (can we all say mom-brain!).
Our Christmas tree adventure turned into a memorable entire day event. We even visited the Very Large Array which is just down the road from Magdalena. Be sure to check this off your New Mexico to-list. Then you too can pretend to be Jodie Foster searching for alien life forms. More to come on this day trip next month!