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The Top 5280 Stories of 2023

“Writing is easy,” begins an old saw that journalists like to toss around. “All you have to do is sit down at a typewriter, open a vein, and bleed.” Our most popular pieces of the year reflect that challenge, which makes it especially humbling that they are among the most read on Below, sink into readers’ 10 favorites, from investigative reports to profiles on the most interesting Coloradans today.

Photo by David Williams

Inside the Reopening of Casa Bonita With Trey Parker and Matt Stone

In an interview with 5280, Trey Parker and Matt Stone dish on whether buying Casa Bonita was a good business decision, how they used South Park to telegraph what was going on with the restaurants’s renovation, and which one of them will be dressing up in the infamous gorilla suit. By Geoff Van Dyke, editorial director (July 2023)

Photo by Matt Nager

25 Best Restaurants

The Michelin Guide may have landed on the Front Range in 2023, but local chefs don’t need stars to prove their worth. The innovative dishes coming out of kitchens across metro Denver are all the evidence we need to say that the Mile High City is a culinary force. Here’s where to dig in this year. By Patricia Kaowthumrong and Ethan Pan, food editors (October 2023)

The Anti-Resort

Arapahoe Basin is making the experience of skiing more enjoyable—and generating higher profits—by limiting the number of people on the slopes. By Devon O’Neil (February 2023)

Photo by Fernando Gomes

Losing Larimer

The Mile High City’s iconic square is known for its historical charm and string of independent businesses, but a new ownership group has big plans that could change the district from a mecca of local Denver flavor to a plaza full of name-brand chains. By Chris Walker, associate editor (February 2023)

Illustration by Hokyoung Kim

Ransom Road

A community of freelance truck drivers known as transmigrantes deliver used vehicles, parts, and other valuable goods from the United States south to Central America. When one transmigrante mysteriously goes missing, an international investigation shifts uncomfortably close to home. By Chris Walker, associate editor (May 2023)

Here’s To You, Chuck Nazty

Pay your respects to Charlie Blackmon—before it’s too late. By Spencer Campbell, features editor (July 2023)

Photo by Aaron Colussi

Springs Eternal

Everything old is new again at Colorado’s hot springs, where recent expansions and upgrades have created fresh ways of savoring the Earth’s oldest bathtubs. Here, our eight favorites from a century-old resort to a plen-air mountain getaway. By Kelly Bastone (January 2023)

Relic Reborn

The Western Hotel and Spa is a remnant of Ouray’s mining past. Now, it’s set to become a gem of the Western Slope’s hospitality scene. By Courtney Holden (January 2023)

Photo by Daniel J. Brenner

Why Was a Man Who Stopped a Mass Shooting Shot and Killed by Arvada Police?

Johnny Hurley was certain of many things in his life—one of which was that he would someday have the opportunity to stop an active shooter. On June 21, 2021, he did. By Robert Sanchez, senior staff writer (March 2023)

Is Franklin D. Azar Colorado’s Greatest Attorney?

The Strong Arm makes his case. By Spencer Campbell, features editor (January 2023)