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Amanda’s Top Ten Favorite Images

Photographer, Amanda Tonagel, shares the stories behind her top ten favorite photos she has captured with Skyline Guest Ranch, highlighting the moments that have defined her visits to the ranch the last two summers. Amanda has gifted us with thousands of images, each beautifully encapsulating the essence of life at the ranch. From vibrant landscapes to cherished family portraits, each image documents and preserves the ranch's legacy and story. Join us as Amanda counts down her favorite captures, each imbued with its own unique story and significance, offering a glimpse into the wonder that awaits those who venture to Skyline.


As I think back on my two trips to Skyline my mind immediately remembers moments that I have had the privilege to capture through my camera lens.

During my trips to Cooke City, I have taken 3,844 images, delivered 1,359 images to Skyline to use for marketing, and was now asked to share my top 10 favorite images!  Choosing only 10 images out of all of these pictures was quite the task! I have changed my list a million times but ultimately I want to share these images with you because they each tell a story for me. A story of that moment when my shutter clicked. 

I hope you can enjoy a little glimpse into my time at Skyline with “Amanda’s Top Ten Favorite Images”. 

I would love to say that all of the pictures I take are intentional and I always get the shot I am going for but let’s be honest, that’s just not true all the time. :) This image was cropped way down from its original. Once I got home and brought the image up on my computer I realized how much I loved this shot cropped in. I love the blue roan of the horse's coat, his chinks peaking out from under his duster, the saddle bag, his spurs, and most of all his initials on his tapaderos! Kaleb spends so many hours in this saddle day in and day out and I loved that this saddle was literally made for him and loved by him. 

This image is special to me because it is of my husband Ben learning how to fly fish from Luke. Luke is an amazing guide and worked so hard to teach us. Fishing Pebble Creek is a must-do experience for all! Not only is the fishing so much fun but just sitting and enjoying the beauty of the area was something I won’t forget.

I giggle every time I look at this picture. To anyone else, they probably see a beautiful horse and a handsome young man. To me, I see Lukus obliging me by taking Clancy’s halter off and smiling at me while I grab the picture, and then 2 seconds later Clancy bolts- taking off to join his friends down by the creek. I felt terrible as Luke, Colter, and Lukus had to go round him back up to be hobbled for the night. 


On my last morning at the ranch we were planning to get Skyline family pictures before I had to leave but it decided to storm. We dodged the rain all morning, waiting it out in the barn between grabbing pictures. This was one of the last shots we got. With the help of Leona (trailride guide), running around behind the camera making horse noises and getting Cal’s attention, we were able to get everyone smiling and all ears up on the horses in one picture!!! If you have ever been to Skyline you know how integral each of these family members is to running the ranch. This family is what makes Skyline so special!  I am blessed to know them! 

This picture is from that same rainy morning. It was drizzling rain when I took this shot and the sun peaked out for just a fleeting moment. I was thrilled to capture this keepsake image of Luke and his three sons in front of the mountain that is such an icon of the Skyline Guest Ranch scenery.

This trail ride was one of my favorites during our 2023 trip. Kaleb, Ben, and I rode through the Lamar Valley and came upon a huge herd of bison. We rode through the herd and it was one of the coolest experiences I have ever had! Listening to them below and calling to one another as we quietly rode by was just amazing. Not to mention the gorgeous scenery that day. The mist in the air, the field of yellow wildflowers, and the bison truly made for a beyond-special experience. Personally, I also love seeing my big tall husband on giant 'Cracker Jack'. They were the perfect pair for the week! 

If you have not experienced an overnight pack trip with Skyline yet, book the trip and do it! There is nothing like riding deep into the backcountry of Yellowstone National Park with a string of mules in hand, fly-fishing cristal blue rivers, and then camping under the stars. I snapped this picture after Lukus had made us an amazing campfire steak dinner and dutch oven apple dumplings for dessert. We all enjoyed sitting around the fire telling stories and enjoying the beauty of the backcountry of Yellowstone. 

After spending time with Colter I knew I had to get him in front of my camera. Colter is an amazing horseman and such a joy to be around. He and his mare “Red Hot” were willing models for me. I just couldn’t let this amazing backdrop in the Pebble Creek Valley go to waste! This image eventually made its way to “Young Rider” magazine where they published several pictures of Colter and an article written by himself!

I won’t lie… I love this image. It is quite possibly one of my favorite pictures I have ever taken. I love it not only because I think it’s a gorgeous scene of Kaleb and Winchester looking towards the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone but I love the memory associated with it. Kaleb, Ben, and I spent this foggy day riding towards the canyon. On the way there we were able to stop and watch a grizzly from a safe distance for 3 minutes. It felt surreal to be so far off the beaten path of the roads running through Yellowstone and to be out there watching a majestic grizzly bear all by ourselves. We spent an afternoon fishing (I’m a much better photographer than a fisherman!) in the canyon and when we were getting ready to head back out a storm popped up and we rode up the ridge in a thunderstorm. I had all my camera gear packed up tight to keep it dry. We got to the top of the ridge and the sun broke through the clouds and just gave the most beautiful light straight onto Kaleb and Winchester. I hurriedly dug out all my gear from the packs and started shooting! I debated later on if I should change Winchester’s ears and cheat a bit to make them face forward. In the end, I decided to leave them because I remember his ears twitching back and forth listening to his rider and his surroundings. I wanted this image to be true to my memory. Thank you, Kaleb, for putting up with my request of, “Just one more picture!” 

I chose this image as my favorite because it is so personal to me. Our first trip to Skyline came after a hard year. My dad had passed away that year and we had tried to take 3 different vacations but all of them had been cancelled because of COVID and my dad’s passing. When we finally were able to make this trip happen I was desperate for some peace and quiet. Ben, Luke, and I rode into Pebble Creek and I remember bursting into tears at how pretty the scene was. The whole valley was covered in gorgeous wildflowers. It was exactly what my spirit needed and I was so grateful for that moment. We spent the best day riding, fishing, and camping. The next morning Luke was gracious enough to help me create my last picture request. I wanted a photo commemorating this trip with all of us in it. I have a similar photo of my dad with his buddies on a trip to Montana from 30 years ago so I wanted my own version! This image now hangs in my husband’s office as a memory of this special trip for us. 

Thank you Skyline for these wonderful memories! We can’t wait to be back this summer for another adventure! Get ready to hear me say, “Just one more picture!”

To see more of Amanda's images from Skyline check out her Skyline Guest Ranch Portfolio on her website:

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May 18

Super photos!

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