Daisetsu Kogen Onsen (大雪高原温泉, Daisetsu Kōgen Onsen) is one of multiple bases from where Daisetsuzan National Park can be explored. Located at 1260 meters above sea level, the small, remote base on the eastern side of the national park consists of just a single accommodation with hot spring baths and is connected to the main road by a ten kilometer, unpaved road.
Daisetsu Kogen Onsen is the trailhead of a popular, circular hiking trail through a pond dotted highland that offers some of the most spectacular autumn colors in all of Japan - usually best in the second half of September. Because the area is densely populated by brown bears, hikers need to attend a short lecture at the bear information center before setting off. Walking the entire trail takes about five hours and requires proper hiking shoes. Eating is allowed only in a few designated areas to keep bears away from the trail.
A separate hiking trail leads from Daisetsu Kogen Onsen to Mount Midoridake (3 hours one way), from where well prepared hikers can continue hiking into the vast interior of the Daisetsuzan mountains.
Due to the long winters, the accommodation at Daisetsu Kogen Onsen is open for only about a third of the year from mid June to mid October. It offers 16 simple tatami rooms that get booked out far in advance during the autumn color season. Rates start at around 15,000 yen per night and person, including dinner and breakfast. The accommodation's hot spring bath can also be used by non-staying guests between 10:30 and 17:00 for 800 yen.
Daisetsu Kogen Onsen is accessible from mid June to mid October via a ten kilometer unpaved road that forks off National Route 273 around Lake Taisetsuko. The unpaved road is closed to regular traffic for about ten days during the peak of the autumn color season, which usually takes place in the second half of September (September 18-27, 2020). Shuttle buses operate during that period, instead. Daisetsu Kogen Onsen is not accessible during the long winter season from mid October to mid June.
Otherwise, Daisetsu Kogen Onsen does not enjoy any access by public transportation for most of the year. Only during the road closure in autumn, there are about six bus connections per day from Sounkyo via the "Lakesite" parking lot at Lake Taisetsuko to Kogen Onsen (60 minutes, 970 yen one way, how to get to Sounkyo).
During the road closure in autumn, motorists can park their car at the temporary "Lakesite" parking lot at Lake Taisetsuko, from where shuttle buses operate to Kogen Onsen roughly every 30 minutes between 6:30 and 13:00. In the opposite direction, the buses depart Kogen Onsen until around 16:00. The bus ride costs 510 yen one way and takes about half an hour. Outside of the road closure period, motorists can use parking lots available at Daisetsu Kogen Onsen.