Six Island Escapes

Republic Island: Pontoon to Sanctuary

You know you’re in the Upper Peninsula when your private island comes with a pontoon boat – and a paddleboat, and a canoe and a rowboat.

Republic Island is a classic Yooper camp smack dab (well, sort of) in the Michigamme River near the sleepy former mining town of Republic, about 35 miles west of Marquette. The unpretentious facilities include a three-bedroom cedar log cabin with a modern kitchen and small bathroom. Outside there’s a patio with charcoal and gas grills.

But out here, what’s beyond the cabin (sand beach and awesome fishing) is way more important than what’s at the cabin. In short: buildings humble; setting remarkable.

The Michigamme River’s smooth dark waters roll by on three sides, and a low-lying floodplain that teems with birdlife connects the little lump of high ground to the wooded riverbank. Yes, technically this is not an island – but this far north things in general are less precise. And an island solitude still prevails, because state forest blankets the banks, and few other cottages stand near.

Park along the paved road paralleling the river, load your gear and pets (dogs welcome) into the pontoon boat and shove off for the island a short hop across the current.

Amenities? Sure, there’s a TV, but only one station. No matter; sunset on the river is calling your name. Later on, the scent and crackle from the cobblestone fireplace will beckon. Rates vary by season and range $525 to $850 per week, or $190 to $225 per night, 734-837-4976, 734-324-2984, [email protected]. – Aaron Peterson

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