GMC Denali

Denali, translated “The Great One,” North America’s tallest mountain, has met it’s match. Well almost. Both Alaska’s Mount Denali and the latest luxury vehicle from GMC are spectacular and extraordinary in every way. But you can easily step into the beauty and luxury of a GMC Sierra Denali or Yukon Denali; to climb over 20,000 feet to Denali’s summit, not so much.

I arrived at the Ted Stevens International Airport in Anchorage in mid-July and had my first ride in a GMC Yukon en route to the Embassy Suites in Anchorage. Seven GMC representatives greeted me and other media professionals from across the country and set us on our path to a whirlwind adventure. The first night’s dinner at Simon & Seafort’s in Anchorage set the tone as a fabulous feast.

From Anchorage, we toured Talkeetna, Denali, and finally Fairbanks, putting these new GMC vehicles to the test in the Alaskan wilderness. Talkeetna features the Alaskan Wild Freestone Rivers (free flowing cold-water rivers with the rock and gravel vital for spawning of trout, steelhead, and salmon). Here we were to fish for the native rainbow trout.

Adam Cuthriell of FishHound Expeditions and Guide Jon Farmer gave us the rundown on the fishery and got us geared up. Most of the GMC crew were first time fly fishermen, but were excited about a big trout hitting their fly. Though the rivers hosted huge king salmon, the season for them was closed as their spawn approached. The gorgeous native rainbows would be our target. And indeed, the trout are spurred to heavy feeding by all the salmon eggs released at this time. Silver (coho) salmon would take their turn in the spawning parade toward the end of July. My guide Jon Farmer had fished early that morning and had caught his biggest rainbow of the season. With a prime spot located, we arrived with all of our gear in the back of the GMC Sierra.

After a quick meet and greet, and we were off into the river. Our choice of fly was the “Hoh Bo Spey” wet fly, tied after steelhead flies that imitate sculpins. We matched Redington waders with a Redington 9-foot, 6-weight rod and reel. Average rainbow in these rivers systems run 16 to18 inches with top-end fish pushing 30 inches. We headed downstream to begin casting across the current, making several drifts before edging our way down to locate aggressive trout.

I soon hooked a fish near the opposite bank and the fight was on until I slid a gorgeous 18-inch trout into the net. After a quick photo, we gently returned this beautiful rainbow to the river. These fish are spectacular, with their distinctive markings and vivid colors. Several more trout were caught and we all concluded it was one of a highlights of the trip.

On our way back to Talkeetna, we also tried ziplining at Denali Zipline Tours and I conquered my fear of heights, soaring through forest valleys and above ponds. That evening, the group gathered at the edge of the river to share stories of the day and enjoyed a cookout where the Talkeetna, Chulitna, and the Susitna rivers converge. The grilled salmon, reindeer sausage, and other delicious dishes made for a great end to the day.