REMAX of Bigfork

How and Where to Get a Christmas Tree Permit in Montana

Christmas tree permits in montanaIt’s that time of the year when the Hollinger Real Estate Team is getting ready for our busy holiday season.

Among our “to-dos” list is one of our favorite traditions: finding and bringing home a tree to decorate for our Christmas celebrations. To help you do the same, we have posted some important “before you go” advice below – offered from the website.

In addition, you will see a list below of Montana National Forests with links to get you to the right site to purchase your permit.

If you have always wanted to get out under the Big Sky to claim your tree, now is the time to do so while the weather is in your favor.

Where to Cut Your Tree

  • Your permit allows you to cut Christmas trees.

  • Make sure you cut your trees on public lands. Follow all motorized road and trail restrictions on the Motor Vehicle Use Map.

  • Do not cut on private land, wilderness areas, designated recreation sites, previously thinned areas, or existing tree plantations.

  • Do not cut in active timber sales or areas that have been planted with new trees.

  • Do not cut trees visible from major roads, within 150 feet of streams and creeks, or in other well-used areas.

  • Please post your permit on your dash.

Selecting Your Tree

  • Each forest has limitations on the size of the tree you can cut and the species of trees that are permitted. See below to help you measure and choose a tree that meets your permit’s guidelines.

  • Prohibited Tree Species: Whitebark Pine, White Pine, Western Red Cedar

  • Tree Height: 12 feet maximum

  • Stump height: 6 inches maximum

  • Stump diameter: 6 inches maximum

  • Take the whole tree. Cutting the tree top off is prohibited.

  • Remove snow from around the stump to accurately measure the stump and tree height if snow is on the ground.

  • Cut the leftover branches from the stump and scatter them.

How to Plan Your Trip

  • Before you leave home, be sure to measure the space where you plan to place the tree in your home (height and width) and measure the area in your vehicle where you will be transporting the tree.

  • Cell service may be spotty or unavailable. Be sure someone knows where you are and when to expect you back.

  • Check the latest weather conditions, forest warnings, and road closures before you leave on your trip.

  • Bring a map with you. Please don’t rely on GPS because it may not be up-to-date with forest service roads.

  • Dress warmly and take extra dry clothes. Expect winter weather, including cold temperatures, snow, and wind.

  • Roads may not be plowed. Carry tire chains, shovel(s), and a tow chain. Be sure your vehicle has a full tank of gas. Bring a spare key and give it to someone else in your party. Don’t get locked out of your car!

  • Park in areas so that traffic can get by safely and do not block gates.

  • Bring plenty of food, water, and an overnight survival kit in case you become stranded.

  • Start your day early. Be sure to find your tree and leave the woods before dark.

Helpful Cutting Tips

  • Carry your tree carefully out of the woods. Dragging the tree will rub off needles and bark.

  • If the tree is too big to transport inside your vehicle, wrap it in canvas to prevent wind damage.

  • Once home, cut the bottom of the trunk off and place the freshly cut trunk in a bucket of water. Replenish water.

  • If storing your tree outside for a few days before moving inside, keep it in an area protected from the wind.

  • Tools you might want to consider bringing with you include a measuring tape to ensure you select a tree that fits in your home; a handsaw to cut your tree; gloves to protect your hands; boots to protect your feet; a tarp to sit on and/or to move your tree once it’s cut; and rope or straps to secure your tree to your vehicle.

Choose a tree from a densely forested area, giving the remaining trees more space to grow.


Lolo National Forest

Bitterroot National Forest

Custer Gallitan National Forest

Flathead National Forest

Bighorn National Forest

Shoshone National Forest

Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest

Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forest


If your future includes plans to enjoy the holidays on a lake or in the mountains for years to come, be sure to see what’s new on the market through our Top Picks page on our website. And then reach out to the Hollinger family. We appreciate the opportunity to personally show you these magnificent homes for sale throughout Northwest Montana.

Have a safe, fun, and memorable holiday season from our family to yours!

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The Hollinger Team

Can we answer any questions for you?

With a lifetime of experience living here in Montana's Flathead Valley, we can answer any question you might have—we've got a ton of real estate expertise, but we can also help with the practical stuff too, like where the best fishing spots are, when ski season begins, and what to do if a moose wanders into your property.

Give us a call, or drop us a note, we'd love to introduce ourselves...
(406) 837-5531 | email: Scott, Diana, Kellie, Drew, or Dane

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