For about the cost of a peppermint latte, you can cut your own live tree for Christmas in one Illinois forest.

Real or Artificial

The great holiday debate: Real or Artificial. If your pick for a tree to trim is one that needs to be watered rather than unboxed, you certainly have options when it comes to buying your fresh tree. There are plenty of tree farms across the area, and many big box stores sell fresh, pre-cut trees.

Smells Like Christmas

If you are looking for a more authentic, Griswold-style Christmas tree experience, one where you can literally smell the pine sap after it's been cut, then check out this cool option thanks to the USDA's Forest Services

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She's a Beaut!

Dreaming of cutting your very own tree from the forest? You're in luck. You can cut a fresh tree to decorate from the Shawnee National Forest located in Southern Illinois.

Enjoying the fresh air while hiking the forest in search of the perfect Christmas tree, can be a wonderful way to begin the holiday season. Create special memories by bringing your family to the Shawnee National Forest to cut your own Christmas tree.

But There Are Some Stipulations

Before you hike out into the Shawnee National Forest to cut down your dream Christmas tree, there are some things you need to know. First, and most importantly, you need a special permit. Fortunately, they are not expensive and can be purchased for just $5 plus the $2.50 online processing fee - basically the price of a peppermint latte.

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Other Things to Know

You cannot cut just any tree in the forest. The permit is good only for Eastern red cedar trees that measure under fifteen feet in height with a stump diameter no larger than six inches. You must just take the entire tree, and be sure that you leave a stump no more than six inches above the ground. If there is snow, you should dig out the trunk of the tree to ensure proper measurements.

More on Cutting a Tree from Shawnee

There are other rules regarding where you can and cannot cut your tree from, as well as some helpful tips for planning your excursion - like leaving pets at home, ensuring you have a full tank of gas in the car, and bringing your permit with you. You can find everything you need to know to cut down a Christmas tree from Southern Illinois's Shawnee National Forest by visiting Recreation.gov.

[Source: fs.usda.gov]

See Frost Flower Photos from Shawnee National Forest in Southern Illinois

This natural phenomenon, known as "frost flowers" was photographed around Cedar Lake, near Shawnee National Forest in Southern Illinois by former biology teacher, Suzanne Asaturian.

Gallery Credit: Kat Mykals

Beautiful Nature Photos from Shawnee National Forest Will Make You Want to Visit Southern Illinois

Take a virtual hike through the area between the Ohio and Mississippi rivers known as the Shawnee National Forest located in Southern Illinois with these stunning photos featuring Garden of the Gods, Tunnel Hill, Giant City Park, Cave in Rock, and more.

Gallery Credit: Kat Mykals

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