Skip to main content

Colorado State Forest Service News

Harvesting the Colorado Capitol Holiday Tree

Photos by Montie Reese, CSFS Forester with the Forest Inventory, Analysis and Monitoring Program

person stands in snowy forest while wearing a hard hat and carrying a chainsaw


On a cold, snowy Nov. 17, 2022, Mike Hughes and team from the Fort Collins Field Office looks for the perfect Christmas tree to take down to the Colorado State Capitol in Denver. Forest management is always top of mind for Colorado State Forest Service foresters, even when choosing a holiday tree. When evergreen trees grow in aspen stands, they provide shade. Aspen trees don’t like shady conditions; they need full sun to thrive and grow. So Mike will find a conifer to remove from this aspen stand that will bring holiday cheer to the Capitol.

two men wear hardhats while standing in a snowy forest.


Mike and Matt Norville decide this subalpine fir will fit the bill. Mike and Matt want to keep this aspen grove as an aspen grove due to a significant aspen decline in the last few decades. There are plenty of other fir and spruce trees in the area, so for the management goals of this forest in the Cherokee Park area of Larimer County, it makes sense to remove this fir for the Capitol Christmas tree.

in a snowy forest a man trims the bottom branches off of a conifer tree


Mike gets busy removing the lower branches of the tree. Ultimately, the tree will need to be trimmed to around 18 feet to fit through the doors of the Capitol.

two men wear hard hats and stand in front a truck and trailer loaded with an evergreen tree in a snowy forest.


The tree is all loaded up and ready for the 2-plus hour trip to the Capitol building in Denver. The COVID-19 pandemic kept this annual tradition from happening in 2020 and 2021, so we’re excited to have this tradition back on track.

decorated christmas tree in a capitol building


Photo courtesy of Colorado’s Legislative Council Staff

The tree is now decorated and available for viewing during the Capitol’s regular business hours. Thanks Mike, Matt and Montie for providing this beautiful tree. Happy Holidays, everyone!