SubscribeAvailable Now
The Heene family—(clockwise from top) Falcon, Ryo, Richard, Mayumi, and Bradford—in New York this past August. Photo by David Williams.

5280’s 10 Best Longreads 2019

From the bizarre saga of Balloon Boy to profiles of notable Coloradans, these are the long-form stories that captured readers' attention this year.

 •  

The Balloon Boy Hoax—Solved!

By Robert Sanchez | October 2019

Ten years ago in October, the country was captivated by a bizarre spectacle in Fort Collins that was colloquially dubbed the Balloon Boy Hoax. Although Richard Heene, the so-called Balloon Boy’s father, pleaded guilty to charges related to the prank, it was never fully clear whether it was the scam that police made it out to be. For the first time, we reveal the true story.

There was a time when the words “active shooter” weren’t part of our lexicon. That was before Columbine.

By 5280 Staff | April 2019

Photo by Benjamin Rasmussen

In April, 5280 published a special edition of the print magazine and built an ancillary website dedicated to the 20th anniversary of Columbine. Through this project, our writers penned longreads on the media’s coverage of the tragedy and how outlets have approached other school shootings in the years since, on the mental health issues plaguing America’s adolescents, and on the legacy of Littleton, a suburb that was beset by violence and grief and has redefined itself over the past two decades.

Why Did Jamel Myles Die?

By Robert Sanchez | January 2019

Photo courtesy of Leia Pierce

When a nine-year-old Denver boy died by suicide in 2018, the tragedy gained national attention. In the immediate aftermath, however, the full story wasn’t told. Why did this exuberant and loving young child die? And did the institutions that were supposed to help and support Jamel Myles and his family let them down?

State Representative Leslie Herod Has a Story to Share

By Natasha Gardner | February 2019

Photo by Paul Miller.

Forget political stereotypes: This history-making legislator is unapologetically progressive, is insistent that state government can be bipartisan (even now), and wants to transform the criminal justice system. And that’s just the start of her ambitions.

Mallory Pugh Is a World Cup Away from Stardom

By Spencer Campbell | June 2019

Mallory Pugh scored 37 seconds after entering the game during an April exhibition against Australia in Commerce City. Photo credit: Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

The Highlands Ranch 21-year-old has been the future of American soccer for almost a decade. The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France was her best chance yet to turn prophecy into gospel.

Between Shadow and Light: Denver Author Peter Heller

By Kasey Cordell | March 2019

Photo by Jeff Nelson.

Denver journalist-turned-novelist Peter Heller’s books—including his newest, The River—tend to be dark. The author himself, though, is anything but.

The Rise of Regenerative Agriculture in Colorado

By Callie Sumlin | September 2019

A morning cattle drive at Flying B Bar Ranch in Strasburg. Photo by Daniel Bedell

Regenerative agriculture—which aims to help heal the earth through restorative farming and ranching practices—is taking root in Colorado. But does it stand a chance against big ag?

Who Is Tim Gill?

By Jay Bouchard | December 2019

Photos by Benjamin Rasmussen

He’s one of the most influential social and political figures in the country’s history, but most people don’t know who Tim Gill is. A quarter century after the Colorado tech millionaire became a philanthropist, we take a closer look.

Are Trails in Colorado Harming Wildlife?

By Kelly Bastone | August 2019

Illustration by Jason Holley

Colorado is in the midst of a trail-building bonanza. But research has revealed an inconvenient truth: The humans recreating on these trails are negatively impacting wildlife populations throughout the state. Is there a way to spend time in the backcountry responsibly without endangering the state’s fauna? 

The Long Forgotten Vigilante Murders of the San Luis Valley

By Robert Sanchez | December 2019

Illustration by Owen Freeman

How history forgot Felipe and Vivián Espinosa, two of the American West’s most brutal killers—and the complicated story behind their murderous rampage.

What We're Reading

Newsletters

Keep me up to date on the latest trends and happenings around Denver. 5280 has a newsletter for everyone.

Sign Up