by Raina, staff writer of japan-guide.com
2015/10/05 - Autumn Color Report: Route 292
Today I went for a drive along national route 292, the stretch between Yamanouchi and Kusatsu. The route reaches one of the highest elevations of the national routes at 2172 meters and because of its relatively high altitudes, autumn color tend to develop earlier. The colors I saw today were undoubtedly beautiful, but I expect them to intensify a little more and reach their peak over the next few days.
Unfortunately, the weather was not on my side; it was cloudy when I started my journey, and the clouds turned into fog the higher up the mountains I went. The temperature never got above ten degrees Celsius when I was on the road, and the fog affected the views and the color of the leaves.
The road has two lanes and has a few sections where there are some crazy winding turns. I started from the Nagano Prefecture side and made the ascent towards the highest point, before descending into Kusatau. Along the way, I passed Mount Shirane but was not allowed to stop. There is currently a one kilometer no-entry zone from the crater and a portion of route 292 passes through it. That portion is open from 8:00 to 17:00 and cars are allowed to pass, but not stop or park.
There are a number of small parking areas along the way, and I stopped at several to take the opportunity to take pictures and enter some of the walking trails that dotted the area. I saw many people who were out there for the fall colors like I was, in cars and also on motorcycles. All in all, it was a beautiful drive with lots of gorgeous autumn colors which would be even more amazing when the weather is good.