Bluff’s Buick: A History of the Iconic Car at Cow Canyon Trading Post

Bluff Buick

It’s one of the iconic images of the ultimate Southwest road trip; the 1949 Buick Super parked in front of Cow Canyon Trading Post in Bluff, Utah.  American Road magazine recently featured the Buick on the cover of an edition dedicated to the land and legends of the timeless Southwest. “I love the form and the shape of it,” explained Liza Doran, owner of Cow Canyon Trading Post. “I found the Buick on the road to Mesa Verde and brought it to Bluff twenty years ago."
Bluff buick cow canyon trading post

Photo: Ryan Logan / Flickr

The 1949 Buick now sits in front of the Cow Canyon Trading Post which was also built around 1949 by the first sheriff of San Juan County, Rusty Musselman. Liza and her late husband purchased the property, began restoration and opened Cow Canyon Trading Post in 1986, and Cow Canyon Restaurant in 1987. After Liza’s twenty-five year restoration, the compound now consists of a charming trading post brimming with unique Native American pieces, and a sleek art gallery featuring modern works from local artists. Known as the Bluff Buick, the car proudly sports the wear and tear of past decades.  The car’s original Detroit paint color has now weathered to a lovely patina. “It looks like rock,” Liza declared. Liza explained that the Buick contains several features relating to World War II. “The hood ornament is in the shape of a sight from a World War II bomber. The round side Ventiports are symbolic as well.” In 1948, a Buick styling executive modified his own car with side Ventiports which flashed on and off to simulate flames from the exhaust of a fighter plane. Buick was delighted with the concept and ordered non-flashing Ventiports be installed on all 1949 Buicks.
Bluff cow canyon trading post buick car

The Bluff Buick as featured on American Road Magazine

When Liza ran her restaurant, she didn’t use to-go boxes. Customers received a take away dinner on a regular plate along with instructions to return empty plates to Liza’s car if the restaurant wasn’t open. Thinking that customers understood the deposit point was her Honda, she never checked the Buick. One day while cleaning around the Buick, however, she noted a stack of dutifully returned plates inside the Buick. Photographs of the Bluff Buick have been featured in several magazines and guidebooks.  Google “Bluff Buick” and you will see numerous images of the car. A photosharing page has been set up on Flickr for photos of the Buick. While working on a project at Cow Canyon, a local tradesman counted fifty-five cars that stopped to photograph the Buick in a single day. “If I had put a coffee can out for donations, I would have had an engine by now,” joked Liza. Gazing fondly at the Buick, Liza smiled and stated, “It’s romantic.  It evokes people on the road.  And, people love old cars.”

Bluff International Balloon Festival: Call for Sponsors

Would you like to ride in a balloon during the Bluff International Balloon Festival? Rides are only available for those who sponsor a balloon. For January 15-17 2016, the festival will feature 28 balloons and 28 sponsors. Balloon Sponsorships are $300. If you are interested in becoming a sponsor for the 2016 Bluff International Balloon Festival or want more information, please email Be sure to act quickly as sponsorships sell out very fast! Thank you to our sponsors! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Wild & Scenic Film Festival Sept. 19th

  Local conservation group Friends of Cedar Mesa is hosting their first annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival this Saturday, September 19th at the Bluff Community Center. Friends of Cedar Mesa is bringing a personalized lineup of 8 Wild & Scenic films for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages. Doors will open for the Film Festival at 7 pm and screenings will begin at 7:30. Tickets are available for advanced purchase for $10 (see event website) or $15 at the door. 18 and under are free! Come for outstanding videography, great door prizes, snacks and drinks and the opportunity to support a great cause.

Workshops announced for Bluff Arts Festival Oct. 16-18

It's time to sign up for workshops at the annual Bluff Arts Festival. This year's festival features an incredible lineup of workshop choices so what will it be?  Willow weaving? Plein Air Painting? Cooking Native Foods? You decide! Online registration is available here. Click here for a brochure and description of the different workshops.
Photo (c) Utah's Canyon Country Blog

Photo (c) Utah's Canyon Country Blog

2015 Celebrate Cedar Mesa Weekend, March 6 – 8th in Bluff

  Celebrate Cedar Mesa is the annual gathering of people who care about the Cedar Mesa area.   Friends of Cedar Mesa have announced a full weekend of activities designed to intrigue anyone who loves the natural and cultural wonders in Bluff’s backyard. 

Visit for the full schedule of events and registration.  

The weekend kicks off on Friday, March 6th, with service projects from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM (registration required).  The Opening Reception follows on Friday evening from 7:00PM – 9:00PM and will feature the premiere screening of Waking the Mammoth documentary by Larry Ruiz (Free, no registration needed). 

The "main event" for the weekend is the Friends Gathering on Saturday, March 7th, from 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM at the Bluff Community Center.  The gathering includes slideshows, policy and research updates, interactive discussions of key issues facing the area, live music, and lots of socializing with fellow Friends.

On Sunday, March 8th, meet up in the parking lot of the Bluff Community Center at 9:30 AM to hike Cedar Mesa with a new Friend.

Registration is now open.  You are encouraged to register soon, as space is limited.  Your $15 registration fee includes a tasty lunch.   Be sure to register before February 28th to guarantee enough food for you!

All attendees at the Friends Gathering will be entered to win some fabulous door prizes from Patagonia and Osprey Packs!