The country's largest nature preserve, Taisetsu-san National Park contains the very essence of rugged Hokkaido: vast plains, soaring mountain peaks, hidden gorges, cascading waterfalls, thick forests, and steaming hot springs. Taisetsu-san, which means great snow mountain, refers to the park's five major peaks, whose altitudes approach 6,560 feet. They are climbable even by moderately experienced hikers, with a ring trail that is best done in summer. But you can also catch
a bus or train or even drive just south of Asahikawa and simply enjoy the picturesque region.
On the park's east side is Soun-kyo, but on its unconnected west side, two spa towns serve as summer hiking centers and winter ski resorts. Shirogane Onsen, at 2,461 feet, has had especially good skiing since its mountain, Tokachi-dake, erupted in 1962 and 1988, creating a superb ski bowl. At Asahidake Onsen you can take a cable car (¥2,800) up Asahi-dake to an altitude of 5,250 feet and hike for two hours to the 7,513-foot summit. In late spring and early summer the slopes are carpeted with alpine flowers. Serious skiers come for Japan's longest ski season.
Daisetsu-san National Park, Japan