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.
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 vacation rentals, Airbnbs, hotels, etc. within a few miles of town. The closest lodging options to the event are located on the Sun Valley Resort property.
Mountain Rides is a public transportation bus system that runs throughout Ketchum and Sun Valley with limited service to Hailey and Galena Lodge. There are also car rental options 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 fabulous 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 that enjoys an incredible 280 days of sunshine per year, Sun Valley summers are mild, with daytime temperatures averaging 77⁰. However, mountain weather can also be unpredictable, so be sure to bring warm clothes, especially for after the sun goes down. And at this elevation, it is important to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated.
Because we are an outdoor Conference, it’s best to bring a sweater or warm jacket, which are always needed at the day’s beginning and end (down jackets are popular summer attire in Sun Valley). We hope you won’t need that umbrella you tucked into your bag, but it’s a good idea too. Conference dress is casual … shorts, jeans, khakis, tennis shoes.
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 and aspirations 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). Talks start each day at 9:30am and end around 6pm.
You will also enjoy communal breakfast, lunch, cocktail hours, and receptions, mingling with the other Conference guests and writers. This includes members of our Scholars & Fellows program and New Voices Fellowship. We have an on-site bookstore, and, following each talk, there will be book signings by the author.
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 22 (time and location TBD).
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 Haven’t Already…
- Be sure to sign up for your breakout sessions starting in May
- Book your travel
- Send your COVID-19 vaccine documentation to [email protected]
- Read up, stay tuned, and get excited!
Photo credit: Barbi Reed