US Capitol Christmas Tree

Announcing the 2016 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Tour

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

For more than 50 years, a Christmas tree has graced the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol for the holiday season. The Payette National Forest in partnership with nonprofit Choose Outdoors will bring this special gift from Idaho to Washington, D.C. for the 2016 season, involving more than 25 communities along the way.

The 80 – foot Engelmann Spruce is the second U.S. Capitol Christmas tree to come from Idaho. It will be cut on Nov. 2 near McCall and prepared for the 2,000-mile expedition. With great fanfare, the tree will leave the Payette National Forest followed by ambassadors from the Payette and Choose Outdoors for the journey to the U.S. Capitol. Community stops include:

  • McCall, ID (Nov. 5 from 5:00 –7:00 p.m. at Downtown McCall, 1000 2nd Street)
  • Cascade, ID (Nov. 6 from 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. at Kelly’s Whitewater Park, E Mill St)
  • Horseshoe Bend, ID (Nov. 6 from 1 – 2 p.m. at Horseshoe Bend School District #73, 398 School Drive)
  • Boise, ID (Nov. 6 from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. at Cabela’s, 8109 West Franklin Road)
  • Boise, ID (Nov. 7 from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at Idaho State Capitol, 700 W Jefferson St)
  • Weiser, ID (Nov. 8 from 9:00 – 11:00 a.m. at Main Street)
  • Council, ID (Nov. 8 from 1:30 – 3:00 p.m. at 101 Bleeker Street)
  • New Meadows, ID (Nov. 9 from 9:00 – 10:00 a.m. at 101 Virginia Street)
  • Grangeville, ID (Nov. 9 from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. at Grangeville Senior Center, 108 Truck Route)
  • Lapwai, ID (Nov. 10 from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. at Nez Perce National Historic Park, 39063 U.S. Highway 95)
  • Moscow, ID (Nov. 10 from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. at University of Idaho, 709 S Deakin St)
  • Coeur d’Alene, ID (Nov. 10 Parked Overnight Kootenai County Fairgrounds off of Government Way)
  • Coeur d’Alene, ID (Nov. 11 from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. between 1st and 2nd Streets on Sherman Avenue)
  • Salmon, ID (Nov. 12 from 2:30 –4:30 p.m. at 204 Main St)
  • Idaho Falls, ID (Nov. 14 from 9:00 – 11:00 a.m. at Alturas Academy, 3950 S. Yellowstone Hwy)
  • Twin Falls, ID (Nov. 14 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at 4th/5th and Shoshone Street East)
  • Ogden, UT (Nov. 15 from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. at Forest Service Regional Office, 324 25th Street)
  • Grand Junction, CO (Nov.16 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at Mesa Mall, 2424 Old US Hwy 6 & 50)
  • Glenwood Springs, CO (Nov.17 from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. at Centennial Park/9th Street)
  • Denver, CO (Nov. 18 from 12:00- 2:00 p.m. at Bass Pro Shop, 7970 Northfield Blvd.)
  • Kansas City, MO (Nov. 19 from 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. at Union Station Kansas City, 30 W Pershing Rd)
  • Columbia, MO (Nov. 20 from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at Holiday Inn Executive Center, Columbia Mall, 2200 I-70 Drive S.W.)
  • Paducah, KY (Nov. 21 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Noble Park, 2801 Park Ave)
  • Paducah, KY (Nov. 22 from 9:00 – 11:00 a.m. at Noble Park, 2801 Park Ave)
  • Nashville, TN (Nov. 22 from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. at Bass Pro Shops Opry Mills, 323 Opry Mills Dr.)
  • Knoxville, TN (Nov. 23)
  • Blacksburg, VA (Nov. 25 from 2:00-4:00 p.m. at 135 College Ave.)
  • Joint Base Andrews, MD (Nov. 27)

After arriving in Washington, D.C. the tree lighting is expected to occur in early December. The exact date will be determined by the U. S. Speaker of the House of Representatives, and is likely to be broadcast on C-SPAN.

For tour information, event details, news and updates, and to track the tree cross-country, come back to visit or

The Search is on

Thursday, July 28, 2016

We’re getting close! Over the past three days, the Superintendent of Grounds and the Public Affairs Officer from the Architect of the Capitol (U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C.) have been here on the Payette National Forest to select the tree that will be transported to the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol this coming holiday season. They also helped make a few of the 8,000 ornaments that will decorate the tree.

The party was joined by Bryan Ricker of Senator Crapo’s office and Bill Seid of Seid Crane. Seid Crane is a project sponsor who is providing the two large cranes that will be used to load the tree for transport. Bill is from Cambridge and the Seid family has a long history with the Payette National Forest – there’s even a Seid Creek on the Forest!
KTVB’s Dean Johnson tagged along and shared this story.

Watch for a story in this next week’s edition of the Star News.

Tokens of U.S. Capitol Christmas

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree program is possible in part to generous support of partners and sponsors, and the Payette National Forest and Choose Outdoors are fortunate to have two partners who have created special initiatives to engage with and support the 2016 program.

Weiser Classic Candy makes hand-made delectables in Weiser, Idaho. They’ve developed the limited edition U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree chocolate bar, proceeds from which will help raise money to fly one lucky Idaho student to Washington D.C this Christmas season where he or she will have the honor of flipping the switch during the 2016 lighting ceremony. The contest to select the student will be headed by Senator Crapo’s office and announced in September. Milk or dark chocolate varieties are $3.00 and can be ordered over the phone by calling toll free 877-818-5016.

Celebrated Idaho-based artist Ward Hooper designed the 2016 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree logo. Ward, a native of Idaho, lets his artwork convey how Idaho continues to inspire him and following the launch of the logo, Hooper offered to develop poster art for the project. The commemorative poster is available for a donation of $20.00. For information on how to donate and receive the poster art, contact Bruce Ward, president of Choose Outdoors. And for more of Ward’s uniquely Idaho art, visit his website.

Enjoy a small piece of the 2016 Christmas season wherever you may be!

It’s Christmas in July in McCall

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Payette National Forest celebrated Christmas in July during McCall’s Lakeside Liberty Fest and the 4th of July weekend festivities.

On July 2, the Payette National Forest along with the Payette Children’s Forest, Brundage Mountain Resort, and Choose Outdoors hosted a Christmas in July event at Depot Park next to Hotel McCall. There were a wide variety of activities, games, and learning opportunities for the whole family, along with Smokey Bear and the change to learn about the “It’s All Yours” campaign. Additionally, attendees were able to make Christmas ornaments for the tree that will make its way to the U.S. Capitol. Even University of Idaho President of University Chuck Staben dropped by to show his support.

On July 4, the Payette National Forest took part in the Lakeside Liberty Fest arts and craft event at Brown’s Park. Several types of ornaments can be made at this activity including reindeer, caribou, petroglyphs, and state symbols for Idaho.

Payette Smokejumpers Tasked With Finding Capitol Christmas Tree

Monday, May 16, 2016

In the 2.3 million acres that make up the Payette National Forest, there is a single tree with a major holiday destiny to fulfill.

The Christmas tree that adorns the Capitol lawn in Washington, D.C., this year will come from Idaho. Now that the snow is melting up high, the hunt for the perfect tree is on.

Finding the Capitol Christmas tree is a lot like what most families do each year, just on a much bigger scale.

“It needs to be between 60 and 85 feet tall, so it’s a huge tree,” explains Brian Harris from the Payette National Forest. “It needs to have that shape and color, and all the branches filled in — really the same thing you’d be looking for in that ideal Christmas tree for your house.”

Harris says the Payette has delegated the tree-hunting work to an unlikely crew: the smokejumpers. He thinks it’s the first time the elite wildland firefighters have been enlisted for this kind of work.

Smokejumpers aren’t silviculturalists, but Harris says they know the forest as well as anyone in the Payette.

The tree they’re looking for will likely be a Douglas fir, grand fir or Engelmann spruce. Harris says they considered going with something more geographically unique to Idaho, like a tamarack (also called a western larch), but decided against it.

“In the wintertime tamaracks drop all their needles… like a Charlie Brown tree,” he jokes.

The smokejumpers anticipate choosing a final tree by July. Once the tree is harvested later this fall, it’ll embark on a celebrity road trip of sorts to Washington, D.C., before fulfilling its destiny as a beacon of holiday cheer.

The last time a Capitol Christmas tree came from Idaho was in 2003. The 65-foot Engelmann spruce came from the Boise National Forest, up the Middle Fork of the Payette near the town of Garden Valley.

Boise State Public Radio, Monica Gokey