Meet your neighbor: Art Hutchinson, acting superintendent of Colorado National Monument |

Meet your neighbor: Art Hutchinson, acting superintendent of Colorado National Monument

Art Hutchinson is currently acting superintendent of Colorado National Monument. He is based locally for the first three weeks in January to learn about park-land operations.
Steve Hight |

Denise: What is your job?

Art: I am the chief of planning for the National Park Service Intermountain Region, which includes the national parks in the Rocky Mountain chain from Glacier all the way down to Big Bend in Texas. We are currently producing foundation plans for all the parks in the region. I also help facilitate plans for the individual parks. One new planning effort will be for the new sites in Valles Caldera and the Manhattan project sites near Los Alamos, New Mexico.

Denise: How long have your worked for the National Park Service?

Art: I started working as an archaeologist for Mesa Verde 27 years ago. I have an M.A. in archaeology, and I was fortunate to get such a great job. I was at Mesa Verde for seven years, and I have also served as park superintendent at Hovenweep and Natural Bridges, Big Thicket National Preserve in Texas, and Great Sand Dunes. I have been in my current job for three years.

Denise: How long will you be at Colorado National Monument?

Art: I am here for the first three weeks in January. The time has just flown by. I am here to learn about the monument’s future infrastructure and maintenance needs, and the initial plans to develop the education center near the east entrance. I am meeting with community members regarding the process for planning and scheduling community events at the monument. In addition to community leaders, I have talked to monument employees, visitors to the monument, and members of the Colorado National Monument Association friends group.

Denise: Are you from the area?

Art: I am from Salida, Colo. I grew up on a ranch, and my father was a veterinarian. My family started out as homesteaders over a century ago, and my daughter is still managing the family ranch.

Denise: What have you learned during your stay here?

Art: Just what a wonderful place this is. So many people, monument employees and community residents alike, are passionate about and loyal to the monument. It is such a treasure, and also a hidden gem. I have spoken to quite a few wide-eyed visitors who had no idea how much beauty was up here before they arrived.

Denise: What do you think of the area? Have you been able to get out and explore?

Art: The Grand Valley is such a beautiful area. As someone who grew up on a ranch, I really appreciate the diverse agriculture here, everything from hay to peaches. I have been taking long hikes in the monument as well as nearby Bureau of Land Management paleontological sites. I’ve been learning a great deal from local experts, such as former Colorado National Monument chief ranger Hank Schoch. I love the colors here, especially the contrast between the blue sky and the red rocks. Simply stated — this is such a beautiful place.

Denise Hight is co-author of “Images of America: Fruita,” which was published by Arcadia Publishing in 2011. She is currently working another book for Arcadia, “Legendary Locals of Fruita,” which will be published in 2016. She can be reached at

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