A First-Timer’s Guide to SVWC

A First-Timer’s Guide to SVWC


Is it your first time to the Sun Valley Writers’ Conference? If so, welcome! We couldn’t be more excited to have you join us.

Below you will find relevant information about both the Ketchum/Sun Valley area and the Conference itself. If you should have any questions along the way, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at 208-726-5454 or [email protected].


Ketchum vs. Sun Valley

For those traveling from out of town, “Sun Valley” is the term given to the general area as well as Sun Valley Resort (which includes the ski mountain, a quaint village, golf courses, etc.). Sun Valley Resort & Pavilion is the venue for the Sun Valley Writers’ Conference each year. Ketchum is the main town in the Wood River Valley roughly two miles away.


Getting Here


The Friedman Memorial Airport (SUN) is located 12 miles south of Ketchum & Sun Valley in the town of Hailey. There are direct flights from LA, Seattle, San Francisco, Denver, Chicago, New York, and Salt Lake City.

Boise (BOI) is the biggest airport in the state and is a 2.5 hour drive from Ketchum. Twin Falls (TWF) & Idaho Falls (IDA) are also flight options, and are 1 hour and 2.5 hours away, respectively.



Driving is certainly a great alternative for getting to Sun Valley. The roads are typically dry in the summer and well-maintained, with relatively flat, straight stretches.



Book early as July is a very busy time of year in the Sun Valley! There are plenty of lodging options, including vacation rentals, Airbnbs, hotels, etc. within a short distance of the venue. The closest lodging options to the event are located on-site—at the Sun Valley Resort property—within walking distance to all talks and presentations.


Getting Around

Mountain Rides is a fabulous, clean, and safe public transportation bus system that runs throughout Ketchum and Sun Valley. There is also service to Hailey and Galena Lodge. Car rentals are available at the Friedman Memorial Airport (again, book early).

Uber and Lyft exist, as do taxi services, but in limited supply.


Things To Do

Summer is a spectacular time of year in Sun Valley. There are all kinds of outdoor activities—hiking, mountain biking, fly fishing, golfing, sport shooting, ice skating, horseback riding, gondola rides, art galleries, bowling alley (great for kids), and more! For more information about things to do, visit our Info & Activities page.

We highly recommend making advanced dinner reservations during the month of July—check out the Visit Sun Valley dining guide for a list of local breakfast, lunch, dinner, and coffee options.


Weather & What to Pack

Sun Valley is located in the high mountain desert of south-central Idaho, tucked 5,853 feet up in the Rocky Mountains. A four-season resort, Sun Valley summers are mild and typically very sunny, with daytime temperatures averaging 77⁰. However, mountain weather can be unpredictable, so we recommend packing warm layers.

Because we are an outdoor Conference, it’s best to bring a warm sweater or jacket for the morning and evening (even a light down jacket). Days can get hot in July, but temperatures can drop by up to 40 degrees after the sun goes down. It’s also a good idea to pack a sun hat and/or sunglasses for sunny days, an umbrella or rain jacket in case of mountain showers, and a water bottle to stay hydrated—we will have plenty of water stations around the venue. At this high elevation, it is important to stay hydrated. Conference dress is casual—shorts, jeans, khakis, tennis shoes, etc. We recommend shoes that are comfortable for walking.


Read Ahead

We have a bookstore on-site during the Conference, operated by Boise State University (all proceeds benefit their scholarship fund). But if you would like to read ahead, we encourage you to check out our Conference Reading List and book reviews, as well as our online shop that supports independent bookstores.


What to Expect

The Sun Valley Writers’ Conference is three full days featuring some of the country’s—and the world’s—best writers and thinkers, including fiction and nonfiction writers, journalists, playwrights, poets, and filmmakers. Together, writers and readers freely exchange ideas during larger Pavilion Talks (some of which are available for single event tickets and/or free lawn seating for our local community) and smaller, more intimate Breakout Sessions (held in open-air tents around the resort and closed to the public). After each talk, there is an audience Q&A followed by book signings by the author.

In between talks, you will enjoy buffet breakfast and lunch on the Sun Valley Pavilion Lawn, with stunning views of Bald Mountain. Relax under the umbrellas and mingle with fellow attendees (including writers, members of our Scholars & Fellows program, and our New Voices Fellows), catch up on your reading, or grab a bite to go. Keep an eye on the schedule for coffee pop-ups, cocktail hours, and opening and closing receptions.

You can also browse our on-site bookstore tent—full of books by presenting authors and a selection of Sun Valley Writers’ Conference gift items like bags, hats, and water bottles. The charming and easily walkable Sun Valley Resort village is just steps away, with its own lodging, dining, retail stores, and coffee shops.


Once You’re Here

If it is your first time at the Conference, we encourage you not to miss New Attendee Orientation. This will help you get the most out of your Conference experience and ensure you don’t miss a thing.

New Attendee Orientation Saturday, July 20 at 11:30am in Tent A.



We encourage you to consider carpooling or using the free Mountain Rides bus service in order to reduce the traffic congestion and make it easier to exit our evening events. During the event, please follow signs to the designated SVWC parking section.


If You Need Assistance

One of the best parts of our Conference are our friendly and helpful volunteers! Many have been here for years—some for decades—and they are a wealth of useful information. If you have any questions or need assistance with anything, don’t hesitate to ask. They will be wearing brown “Ask Me” vests and yellow lanyards.


Venue Map

Use this map to help get you oriented to the venue before you arrive.


If You Haven’t Already…
  1. Be sure to sign up for your breakout sessions starting in May
  2. Book your travel
  3. Read up, stay tuned, and get excited!


Pavilion Talk Single Event Tickets

Free Lawn Talks

Free Livestreaming

Free Community Speaker Series

Media Library

Past Presenters

Become a Donor


Photo credit: Halsey Pierce

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