Christmas tree farm experience
People can buy a real Christmas tree just about anywhere these days — from the big box stores to the side of the road.
But there is just something about taking a long drive through the mountains in the crisp winter weather to visit a farm and cut down your own tree. The strong scent of a Fraser fir and hot apple cider wafting through the air put people in the Christmas spirit.
Searching for the perfect Christmas tree in the mountains has become an annual tradition for many families. They come from all over the Southeast to Western North Carolina, not just for a tree but for a family experience they will remember for years to come.
Kathy Wright of Clayton, Georgia, has been going to Osage Farm in Scaly Mountain for 10 years to pick out a Christmas tree. She and her husband, Bruce, continue to go every year because of the beautiful drive up the mountain, the large selection of trees and the fair prices.
“But we go to the tree farm for a much bigger reason. It has become a tradition — an adventure,” Kathy said. “Bruce and I have come to need this experience. What we try to do each year is gather up the grandkids, as close to Thanksgiving as possible, and generally we make at least two trips.”
During the Wrights’ tree hunt, which may take several hours, there is usually a discussion as to which tree will be going home with them.
“’This one's too fat, too tall, too scrawny,’” Kathy said. “Purchasing the kids’ and grandkids' tree is the first gift of Christmas. It is all about building those relationships. This tradition sets the mood for the season.”
Christmas tree farms in the region like Boyd Mountain Christmas Tree Farm in Waynesville and Tom Sawyer Christmas Tree Farm in Glenville go above and beyond to offer families a true Christmas experience when they visit.
“People who come here every year to find a tree come for the experience,” said Darren Nicholson, who works at Boyd’s. “People like to come to the farm and hike up the mountain to find their perfect tree. They can also see Santa here and have hot cocoa and cookies.”
Boyd’s also has many restored cabins on the property families can stay in if they want to extend their trip further. Nicholson said families wanting to stay in the cabins over Thanksgiving weekend have been on the waiting list for several years, but they are available to rent all year long. The property also offers hiking trails, a fishing pond and peaceful, private setting.
Tom and Myra Sawyer have put a lot of time and thought into making their tree farm into a destination for families during the holiday season. Not only does their 80-acre farm offer 40 acres of Fraser firs, it also includes a Christmas Elf Village. With various elf-sized cottages, elf costumes for children and visits from Santa Claus, the Elf Village adds a fun aspect for the family.
“People love to come up here and pick out a tree — they come from all over,” Tom said. “And we’ve had the Elf Village for the last six years and it’s been great.”
Tom said it also adds more time to each family’s visit to the farm. While finding a tree on the farm may be a two-hour affair, letting the children play in the Elf Village as the parents pick out a few gifts at the gift shop barn makes it an all-day event. The Elf Village offers a place for children to write letters to Santa, take pictures with Santa and other elves, make Christmas crafts, listen to someone reading Christmas stories, make s’mores in the fire pit and much more.
“Almost all parents come here with their kids to get a tree because their parents took them to a tree farm when they were little and they want to bring back that tradition for their kids,” Tom said. “People get busy with life they don’t have much time for family things.”
The Sawyers also added a wedding venue at the tree farm to generate more revenue throughout the year. An open-air barn with a kitchen provides a perfect setting for a reception, while the farm offers several options for the ceremony location.
“We really enjoy what we get to do here,” Tom said. “Two of the most joyous times in life are Christmas and a wedding, and we get to help people with both.”
Christmas tree farms
• Boyd Mountain Christmas Tree Farm
• Nesbitt Christmas Tree Farm
• WNC Christmas Trees
• Mehaffey Tree Farm
• Dutch Cove Christmas Tree Farm
• Smoky Mountain Christmas Tree Farm
• Tom Sawyer Christmas Tree Farm
• Grandy Mountain Farm and Landscaping
• Hutch’s Mountain Trees
• Bee Bryson Tree Farm
• Chris Burrell Tree Farm
• Moss Tree Farm
• Pressley Tree Farm
• Long Hollow Tree Farm
• Buck Knob Farm
• Craig Farm
• J & J Tree Farm
• Peak Experience Christmas Trees
• Osage Farm