Do you expect to arrive the 26th or before Christmas and is it just you or will you have a buddy?
Hopefully before christmas cause I know it gets bad afterwards, thinking like 19-22nd? And for sure with a buddy. I'm not that dumb (or smart) whichever way you want to put it, to go solo right now.
I will either go with a friend from high school or go with someone from college.
Not totally sure yet.
Any time before Christmas should allow you to get a permit for pretty much what you want. Remember to get a continuous permit from the day you arrive until you leave. Make your decisions the first day at Panther Junction and then run with it.
P.S. In my limited experience over the years, many say they will go and few do. You need to lock your buds in. Even then they may flake. Don't let that slow you down as long as you can afford the gas. $120 would be a great early Christmas present!