The American West | EPIC RIDES

Adventure-touring newbie Ericka Turnbull goes solo on her Ducati to discover our national parks.

Latitude: 44° 25' 40" N Longitude: 110° 35' 18'' W

The American West Epic Rides
In the shadow of a T-Rex at Two Medicine Dinosaur Center.

In July 2013, I packed up my 2004 Ducati Multistrada and hit the road for a nine-day, 2,800-mile adventure across Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana. I only had 10 months of riding under my belt when I left, so I got plenty of "last looks" from friends, really taking me in like it was the last time they might see me. "You're going by yourself?!" I think I heard that 50 times before I left. Stuff like that makes me want to share my story with everyone.

The first leg took me from Seattle to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, where I met Nathan Slabaugh of Thecalloftheroad.me—a stranger who quickly became a dear friend as we bonded over stories of solo travel on our first-gen Multistradas. Next stop was Whitefish, Montana, and Glacier National Park. The Going-to-the-Sun Road is absolutely stunning, and this was one of my favorite days riding. I need to go back; the few hours I spent there didn't allow me to fully take in the beauty. Then I spent two days in White Sulfur Springs, soaking in stinky hot springs, before a quick shot to Bozeman to float down the river with an old friend.

The American West Epic Rides
Resting beside a Yellowstone waterfall.

From there I traveled to Yellowstone National Park, where I met my pops for a little father/daughter bonding on bikes. I was so proud of myself when I got there; I would be lying if I said my eyes didn't well up as I took a photo of my bike in front of the welcome sign. That's when I began to understand how much motorcycling really meant to me, when I realized my Multi was represented in nearly every photo I took, just like a kid!

Sitting behind Dad's Harley-Davidson while we waited for buffalo to cross the road, I simply couldn't believe I was motorcycling with my father. It was such an unexpected delight! We took the Beartooth Scenic Byway out of the park, and it was unbelievable riding. Those hairpins…whoa! The scenery was breathtaking, and the company of the strangers we met was amazing.

Dad's bike died on the way to Cody, Wyoming. He was able to bump start it and we headed out, but in the middle of nowhere it died again. I eventually found a place to buy a new battery, so I beelined to Billings, Montana, grabbed the battery, and met back up with him. We began chasing daylight, trying to cover 80 miles before the sun set, and we made it back to Cody in one piece.

The American West Epic Rides

We parted ways the next morning, and I spent two days riding back to Seattle on I-90, leaned over most of the time just to go straight in the strong crosswind—difficult for a 120-pound woman to do for seven hours straight! I had so much fun on this trip. I got lost, I did way more off-roading than I ever expected, and I saw such beauty everywhere I looked. I plan to take a trip like this every year now. In fact, I'm already planning my next summer adventure to Banff!

The American West Epic Rides
Me and my Multi before leaving Seattle.
The American West Epic Rides
Resting beside a Yellowstone waterfall.
The American West Epic Rides
In the shadow of a T-Rex at Two Medicine Dinosaur Center.
The American West Epic Rides