Cairngorms National Park overview

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Still from the Cairngorms National Park video
Cairngorms National Park

Discover the outstanding Cairngorms National Park, home to a rich variety of wildlife

  • Pony trekkers take a break during a ride through the Alvie Estate, with views across to the Cairngorms beyond
    Trekking on the Alvie Estate, Cairngorms National Park
  • Looking up the garden path bursting with flowers and trees to Crathes Castle, Aberdeenshire
    Crathes Castle, Aberdeenshire
  • Looking over to the stone bridge crossing the Falls of Bruar, near Blair Atholl, Perthshire
    The Falls of Bruar at Blair Atholl, Perthshire
  • A couple of walkers follow the track from the Lairig Ghru mountain pass in the Cairngorms National Park
    Walking on Rothiemurchus Estate with the Lairig Ghru behind, Cairngorms
  • The slopes by the Carn Aosda t-bar lift at Glenshee Ski Centre
    Glenshee Ski Centre, Highlands

Visit the unspoilt wilderness of Cairngorms National Park where you can explore vast forests filled with wildlife, enjoy some of the best hillwalking in the country and ski down snow covered mountains. You’ll also find plenty fun outdoor activities to suit a variety of interests in Britain’s largest National Park.

Cairngorms National Park covers 4,500 sq km of stunning mountains, green forests, friendly villages and picturesque lochs across four regions. The park celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2013 with a programme of events and activities. Follow our itinerary to discover the National Park's many highlights or find more information via the VisitCairngorms app.

Diverse flora and fauna

As the park is home to 25 percent of the UK's threatened wildlife species, don't forget to bring your binoculars and camera when you visit. See if you can spot everything from red squirrels, capercaillies and ptarmigans to red deer, golden eagles and Scottish crossbills.

For more wildlife, visit the RSPB Osprey Centre on Loch Garten and watch ospreys feed their young via webcams, or head for the Highland Wildlife Park near Kingussie where you'll find Scottish wildlife alongside exotic residents including tigers, red pandas and polar bears.

Glenmore Forest National Nature Reserve in the Highlands is one of nine national nature reserves found in the Cairngorms and features one of the most expansive areas of Caledonian pine forest in the UK. 

Activities in the wild

Cairngorms National Park is also a real adventure playground for outdoor enthusiasts, with a fantastic range of activities to choose from. Enjoy year round activities in the park’s three ski centres, or head to Loch Morlich for windsurfing, sailing, canoeing and kayaking. Keen anglers can land a catch in the Rivers Don and Dee and experience some of the world’s best salmon fishing on the River Spey.

Back on dry land, try pony trekking and quad biking in areas including the beautiful Rothiemurchus Estate.  The park also stretches into Aberdeenshire where you can tour the region’s many castles, such as Braemar, Crathes and Balmoral, or follow the Victorian Heritage Trail.

In the south of the park, enjoy a day in the hills and explore the Angus Glens including Glen Clova and Glen Esk. You can also admire the historic Perthshire landscape such as the wooded gorge of the Pass of Killiecrankie which overlooks the River Garry, or discover 50 miles of waymarked walking and cycle routes and ranger-led activities for children through Blair Atholl and the Atholl Estates.

Fun and fascinating attractions

If you're looking for more family fun, be sure to visit the Super Seven group of attractions across Cairngorms National Park. They include everything from the Landmark Forest Adventure Park in Carrbridge to the Highland Folk Museum in Newtonmore.

In 2014 BBC Winterwatch was filmed at Mar Lodge Estate, which occupies nearly 7% of the Cairngorms National Park and includes four of the five highest mountains in the UK. The estate is a fine example of a classic Highland landscape, with heather moorland, juniper scrub and remnants of ancient Caledonian pine forest.

After a day exploring the region, stop off at Glenlivet Distillery at Tomintoul which forms part of the world renowned malt whisky trail, and relax with a well deserved dram of whisky.

There's plenty ways to enjoy the Cairngorms National Park. Use the three-day itinerary to help plan your time in the area or explore for a day with Scottish Natural Heritage.