FAQ - Plan your Trip
Plan your Trip
Outwith the ski season (normally May – November) CairnGorm Mountain opens at 10am in the morning. The first train to the top is at 10.20am and the last train to the top is at 4.00pm. The last train down is at 4.30pm. The train journey normally takes about 8 minutes. Please note it is not possible for visitors to exit the top station building or the weather terrace unless they are accompanied by a guide on a pre booked walk. Further details are available in our Visitor Management Plan.
Getting to CairnGorm Mountain is straight forward by car and public transport. If you’re feeling up to it you can even come by bike – though there is a bit of a hill climb at the end. CairnGorm Mountain car park is 9 miles from Aviemore. From Aviemore take the B970 and continue along the road following the signs for CairnGorm Mountain past Glenmore and up the mountain. Both Stagecoach and Citylink operate regular bus services to Aviemore and from Aviemore Station you can get a bus up to CairnGorm Mountain. Likewise there is a main train station in Aviemore and regular trains from Edinburgh, Perth, Glasgow, Inverness and even an overnight sleeper from London.The nearest Airport is Inverness , just over 1 hours.
When we are not skiing, there’s plenty to see and do at CairnGorm Mountain. The train journey to the Top Station is an obvious highlight and visitors are rewarded with either amazing views of the Highlands or an insight into the wonders of the Scottish mountain weather from the weather watching terrace. The mountain exhibition, weather terrace, Shop at the Top and the Ptarmigan Restaurant are enjoyable places to spend some time in the company of family and friends. If you’re after something more active and some fresh mountain air then there are many self guided walking trails within the ski area, or simply take time to potter in the mountain garden and visit the camera obscura. Weather permitting it is also possible to join the guided Walk @ The Top . This is a 90 minute walk to the summit of the UK’s 6th highest mountain and in the company of an experienced guide you will enjoy a real insight into what makes this Scottish mountain so special. There are Highland Fling Ceilidh Nights to enjoy on Thursday nights throughout July and August and visit the News and Events section to see what’s happening when you plan your visit.
From car park level at the bottom of the mountain railway it is possible to walk anywhere on the mountain range. Outwith the skiing months (normally May – November) it is not possible to use the mountain railway as a quick means of access to go for a walk on the high mountain plateau The Cairngorms Massif is Britain’s largest nature reserve and is protected under various UK and European Law. The mountain railway operates a Visitor Management Plan to help protect the mountain environment and visitors are asked to play their part in safeguarding this special place for future generations by observing the management arrangements. Click here for full details of the Visitor Management Plan. Visitors who are booked onto the Walk @ The Top will be accompanied by a guide when they leave the safety of the Top Station. Visitors who ride the mountain railway but are not booked onto a Walk @ The Top must remain within the area of the Top Station building and weather watching terrace. Visitors will be reminded of these arrangements when purchasing their train tickets at the ticket office and once again when they ride on the upward journey to the Top Station.
You can follow the winter updates on Twitter, view the webcams on the mountain and get weekly updates on conditions via the This Week at Cairngorm RSS Feed. The weather at CairnGorm Mountain is a real feature of Scottish skiing and we get plenty of it. Sometimes it’s great with blue skies and sunshine and sometimes it’s challenging – manage your expectation and come prepared for anything….
There’s skiing, a terrain park, snowboarding, and sledging available at CairnGorm Mountain, subject to conditions. In fact, there are more than 30km of ski runs and a fully maintained snowboard fun park, suitable for all levels from beginner to expert. Cross country, telemark, ski touring and ski mountaineering are also available from specialist operators. There is a recognised Ski School that operates on site and Disability Snowsports UK offers lessons for those with special needs.
There is a range of prices with full day tickets and half day tickets available (which are sold from noon each day). All tickets and equipment hire items can be purchased at the same time in the Base Station Ticket Office. Once hire has been paid for, equipment can be collected from Level 3 of the Day Lodge.
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SKI HIRE CUSTOMERS PLEASE NOTE you now don't need to queue at the Ticket Office to pay for your equipment and lift ticket. You can now head straight to Hire to collect equipment and lift ticket all in the same building. If any of your party already has their own equipment they can purchase a lift ticket at the same time or go to the ticket office if they prefer.
You can hire everything for skiing, snowboarding and sledging on the mountain including outer clothing. You are required to leave a deposit for all ski and board hire items (credit or debit card only, held in compliance with data protection regulations). At the moment hire equipment can not be pre booked online. It is sold on a first come, first served basis. Visitors taking Ski School lessons are given priority and you can book your ski lesson online (see link above). Equipment should be paid for when you purchase your ski ticket at the Base Station Ticket Office. It is not possible to pre-book equipment hire without booking a ski or board lesson - the only items that you cannot hire are hats, gloves and goggles, but these can be bought in the Mountain Shop. Ski Hire also offer a Technical Repair Workshop Service for last minute equipment adjustments or for a full service, quick edge and hot wax.
You can learn to ski and board with professional instructors and choose either a group or private lesson. You can pre-book skiing and snowboarding lessons (with equipment) by contacting our resident Ski School on 08455 191 191 or 01479 861 319. Disability Snowsports UK offer lessons for those with special needs. If you require lessons or have pre-booked lessons please go straight to the Ski School desk on level three of the Day Lodge (not the Base Station ticket office) to confirm your booking and collect your ski ticket and equipment.
The CairnGorm Mountain Hilton Ambassadors are a friendly team of volunteers who are available on a daily basis to provide information for all visitors and offer informal tours of the ski area. They are highly visible in their bright yellow suits. The Ambassadors offer daily tours of the hill and meet at the Top Station just outside the Ptarmigan exit doors at 11.30am and 2.00pm. The tours are aimed at those skiers and boarders who are competent in the mountain environment but who have never skied here before. The Ambassadors are great company with loads of local knowledge and they are ideal if you do not want to ski on your own. Please note no children under 16 years unless accompanied by an adult or guardian.
Lots of visitors come and have a look at the skiing action. It can be really exciting in the midst of winter watching the hustle and bustle of the ski area and experiencing for yourself the whole range of winter weather in the Scottish hills. Ski spectators can ride the train to the Top Station (we suggest you plan your visit between 11am and 3pm if you are not skiing to avoid possible train queues at the start and end of the day). Depending on conditions you may want to have a play in the sledge park (tickets available in the Shop at the Top). The weather watching terrace at the top, the mountain exhibition, Ptarmigan Restaurant (with it’s famous Hot Chocolate Mountain) and Shop at the Top are all there for you to enjoy whether you choose to ski or not. Remember to wrap up super warm.
Skiing can take place any time between December and April depending on weather conditions. It is sometimes possible to ski before December and into May. Winter operating hours are normally between 9am and 4pm depending on the daylight hours.