Located east of Matsumoto, this plateau is the largest and highest (2,000 meters) plateau in Japan. It commands striking 360-degree views, including views of the Northern Alps and even Mount Fuji. In the season, the plateau is covered by carpets of azaleas or alpine plants. There is large stock farm where cows enjoy leisurely meals of grass against a picturesque background of the northern Alps. You can get information on nature and the plateau at Utsukushigahara Shizen Hogo Center (Nature Conservation Center) in front of Utsukushigara Kogen bus stop. After walking along a broad trail sandwiched between fields of grass, you will arrive at Ogato, the highest point of the plateau, 2,034 meters in altitude. The trail is a gentle slope, so even those who are unfamiliar with hiking can easily enjoy it. There is a 6.6 meter tower in the center of the plateau, called Utsukushi no To. On foggy days, climbers ring the bell inside to guide other climbers on their way. If you walk on, you will arrive at Yamamoto-goya (lodge). From Yamamoto-goya bus stop, you can go to Matsumoto by bus.
The Utsukushigahara Open-Air Museum is at the end of Venus Line, a drive route, and 350 modern sculptures are exhibited outside. (Open: Apr 24-Nov 15)