The magazine was founded in 1993 by Daniel Brogan, a former reporter and columnist for The Chicago Tribune. The monthly publication has an audited circulation of 77,027, making it the largest local magazine in Colorado.
Like other city and regional magazines, 5280 covers dining, entertainment, and special events, as well as local and regional politics. Its "daily blog of the latest news, gossip, and commentary from the Mile-High City" is called Elevated Voices (official website).
Annual cover stories include the "Top of the Town" awards, with top ratings in a wide range of products, services, stores, shops and community features; "Top Doctors", listing top-rated physicians by specialty; and "Top Restaurants" (official website).
Since 2005, "5280" has been a finalist for four National Magazine Awards (known as "Ellies"), "the magazine industry's highest honor." In 2005, 5280 was a finalist for both "Conduct Unbecoming" and "Private Stites Should Have Been Saved", by its Executive Editor Maximillian Potter. "Out in the Cold", an article by Mike Kessler on the plight of workers at the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant, was a National Magazine Award finalist in 2008. "Low on O2", a package by Lindsey B. Koehler and Natasha Gardner exploring the effects of living at higher altitudes, was a finalist in 2010. 
Notable staff and contributors 
Notable 5280 staff and contributors, past and present:
- Gary Hart
- Kent Haruf
- Jeralyn Merritt (contributor to Elevated Voices)
- J. R. Moehringer
- Hampton Sides
- Circulation statistics, Circulation Verification Council, December 2007.
- Michael Roberts, "Altitude Check: As Other Pubs Fall, 5280 Is a Mile High and Rising", Westword, March 30, 2006.
- "Meet the Editors of 5280 Magazine", 5280 (official website), accessed January 28, 2008.
- Joanna Pettas, "Regional Magazine Makes a Case for Smart Spending", Folio Publishing Summit, August 31, 2007.
- "The American Society of Magazine Editors Announces National Magazine Award Finalists: 40th annual 'Ellies' -- Magazine Industry's Premiere Editorial Awards -- To Be Presented April 13 ", press release, American Society of Magazine Editors, March 17, 2005.
- Maximillian Potter, "Conduct Unbecoming", 5280, February 2004, and "Private Stites Should Have Been Saved", 5280, June 2004.
- "Off the Record", The New York Observer, March 28, 2005.
- [http://www.magazine.org/ASME/ABOUT_ASME/ASME_PRESS_RELEASES/26571.aspx "The American Society of Magazine Editors Announces 43rd Annual National Magazine Award Finalists", press release, American Society of Magazine Editors, March 19, 2008.
- [http://magazine.org/asme/magazine_awards/nma_winners/index.aspx "2010 National Magazine Awards Winners and Finalists", press release, American Society of Magazine Editors, April 22, 2010.