Historic Gwin's Lodge - Best Lodging on the Kenai Peninsula
Our Guests' Reviews:
kokonut33 from Houston, TX
A former Alaskan resident suggested Gwin's and we were not disappointed. The cabin we stayed in for 3 nights (#6) was a cabin on the outside and a very nice room on the inside. We had a small but full kitchen, nice living area with lots of windows plus room to sleep at least 4 if not more. We also had a nice porch on the front where mountain views could be enjoyed. The staff was extremely helpful and very accommodating. When we couldn't find a guide to take my wife and i fishing they made a call and got me a better deal then anywhere else i had looked. We ate there our first day and food and service was great. My wife had been a little skeptical about staying in a cabin, but this ended up being her favorite place we stayed for our whole Alaska trip.
My husband and I spent 2 nights in one of Gwins cabins. We had breakfast at the restaurant both mornings. Best breakfast around and very generous portions! Delightful, attentive waitresses and a real Alaskan feel to the place make this the best in cooper landing :) Thanks Gwins! We live in Homer and will most definitely make this a regular stop :)
Fred Sylvia S
We stayed in Cooper Landing area in late August. Prospector John recommended Gwin's Restaurant. We had the hamburger special. It was great with generous portions! We went back a few days later for another delicious meal. Great service by the friendly wait staff. Keith, the owner, came by with a friendly greet and chat. The kitchen is open, we could see the "chefs" as they happily went about their work---even doing a little dance to the 60s music in the background. Don't miss this place. (Keith--thanks for the cross!)
Riverwolf from Threerivers
We arrived at Gwin's Lodge a rustic road house from back in the day with an Authentic Alaskan ambiance about it, we were just in time for dinner and we were not disappointed the food was fabulous they have an exceptional wine list and the service was outstanding, a friendly and helpful staff, our cabin was clean and comfortable. I recommend Gwin's Lodge, we loved it; Cooper Landing is a very beautiful area, near the Russian river, the fall colors and the color of the river just took our breath away, a sight to behold.
... I can’t wait until my next visit.
Lori A. M.
We made [Poplar Chalet] our home for two nights on our honeymoon, it was perfect! The bonus was the chili at Gwin's restaurant. I had chili here three times on my trip, it's the best I've ever eaten!
Gwin's Lodge first opened in January 1952 before Alaska was even a state. Gwin's Lodge has been an iconic landmark well-known for delicious home cooking and comfortable lodging. Gwin's Lodge is a log roadhouse constructed of hand-peeled spruce logs cut from the surrounding forest by Pat and Helen Gwin in 1952 before Alaska was a state. The spruce log roadhouse that is the signature of Gwin’s Lodge serves as the restaurant and bar. The logs have achieved a beautiful patina that give the roadhouse a warm glow that cannot be faked. Combine this with a modern kitchen and dinning room that were totally remodeled last year, the authentic rustic Alaska frontier ambiance cannot be rivaled.
According to a March 1, 2001 article in the Peninsula Clarion, it all began in 1946, when Pat and Helen Gwin arrived in Cooper Landing from Colorado. The tiny town had about 100 residents then. The Gwins eked out a living by operating a small packaged goods store out of a tent. That same year, construction began on the highway from Cooper Landing to Homer. The Sterling Highway, the road that is the artery of the Kenai Peninsula, opened in 1950 and subsequently the Seward Highway opened in 1951. The main lodge building was built from spruce logs harvested from the surrounding Chugach National Forest. Cutting, hauling and hand-peeling the logs in true pioneer fashion, Pat and Helen Gwin completed and opened the lodge on January 1, 1952 (according to another article it opened on New Year’s Eve in 1952) to wary travelers and fishermen eager to hook the big one. The kitchen was put in during 1953, and the restaurant-bar opened July 4, 1954, and Helen did the cooking and cleaning. Pat and Helen parted ways in 1959, but Helen stayed to run the lodge. Helen finally retired in 1976 and sold the Lodge. Today it has been totally revamped and remodeled under new ownership and management. Gwin's Lodge is ready for more generations of travelers and vacationers who will love the smoked salmon chowder and other delicious foods.
Helen was not only a tough woman, successfully running the business by herself for many years, she was also an animal lover. Mayme Ohnemus, who eventually became a close friend and employee at the lodge, met Helen in 1969. Mayme gave an eye-witness account of Helen’s no-backing down attitude when a brown bear pawed at her back door: “I saw her fly out that back door with a broom in hand and her apron strings flapping in the wind. She ran right up the trail behind the bear swatting at it the whole way. After that, I started to think she was as tough as everyone was saying.”
Helen apparently befriended many animals. One of them was “Minnie the Moocher,” a moose that began frequenting the lodge as a yearling. “She would stand in the windows and look at the customers, and she would eat food put out for the birds, until we finally had to start putting out moose food,” Helen said in a 1982 Clarion article. When the cow eventually got old enough to give birth, the moose “brought her first calf to the lodge, a baby bull, which eventually became so tame it would eat out of people’s hands,” she said.
“She even had an ermine that lived in the house that she fed. She made pets out of every animal she came in contact with,” Ohnemus said. Did I mention that I am an animal lover? So glad to find out that Gwin’s Lodge has this endearing story behind it.
Helen was also a beloved member of the community. She hosted weekly pinochle parties and everyone at Thanksgiving and Christmas. All the area lodges and businesses would close and come to Gwin’s Lodge for the holiday meals. Helen retired in 1976 but continued to be an active participant in Cooper Landing’s activities and organizations. She donated many items to the local museum, including Gwin’s Lodge records and menus from 1949 on, an old-time sewing table, clothing and accessories shipped to Alaska from the Gwins’ former home in Colorado, records of the first Cooper Landing Chamber of Commerce from more than 40 years ago, a burl table made by Arne Sundby, fur pelts and Native-made baskets and toys. Helen died in her sleep in 2007 in Cooper Landing at age 92.
The beauty and history of Gwin's Lodge, combined with its central location on the Kenai Peninsula, makes Gwin's Lodge one of the best fishing lodges in Alaska.
Gwin's Lodge is inside the Chugach National Forest, surrounded by spruce trees, and is located near the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. The property sits at the foot of Cooper Mountain by the turquoise blue Kenai River. Near by is the crystal clear Russian River, Kenai Lake, and Skilak Lake, each with its unique beauty. Cooper Landing on the Kenai Peninsula is a photographer's paradise.
Convenient Central Location
Gwin's Lodge is located in Cooper Landing, which is a central location on the Kenai Peninsula. Gwin's Lodge is a short two-hour drive from Anchorage. Because of its central location, Gwin's Lodge can be your home base from which you explore all the fun activities on the Kenai Peninsula - Kenai Fjords cruises out of Seward at one end of the Peninsula, saltwater fishing and fly-out bear viewing trips out of Homer, at the other end. For fishers, Gwin's Lodge couldn't be at a more ideal location. It is the closest establishment to the confluence of the Kenai River and the Russian River, two world-class salmon fisheries. The close proximity means you can spend all of your waking time on the river taking advantage of virtually 24 hours of daylight.
Gwin's Lodge is all-in-one restaurant, store, and lodging. The full-service restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner featuring world famous smoked salmon chowder, hamburgers, and carrot cake. The store is stocked with fishing tackle, equipment, and licenses. The store also has abundant souvenir shirts, jackets, caps, mugs, postcards, posters, etc. that feature Alaska, Russian River, and Kenai River subject matter. Snacks, drinks, bear spray, insect spray, and other convenient items are also available. New liquor store also open that features a variety of beers, wines, and spirits.
Comfort and Cleanliness
All of the chalets and cabins at Gwin's Lodge received a fresh remodel along with new Sealy President pillow top matresses , bedding, new sofas, and new hardwood flooring. Everything looks, smells, and feels fresh, clean, and beautiful.