The 2023 OWAA Annual Conference will be held in Gulf Shores, Alabama at The Lodge at Gulf State Park, Sept. 9-11, 2023.

It’s all about engagement. It’s all about community. It’s all about connections. And, in the end, it’s all about furthering your professional skills and your business. Join us for OWAA’s annual conference to connect, mingle and learn from 200 outdoor storytellers and the brands that support their work. Network with other professionals, hone your communications skills, find a mentor/mentee, find more and better ways to sell your work or promote your brand.

You’ll meet with some of the best outdoor communicators in the country and absorb presentations on writing and editing, photography and videography, broadcast and digital media, the latest tech and newest tactics, and more. Develop your field craft and test the latest innovations during an off-site breakout day. Take advantage of pre- and post-tours to get the latest story on (and shots of) outdoor adventures in Gulf Shores, be it paddling, hiking, fishing, hunting or other outdoor pursuits.

Be there to:
  • Network with and learn from top media pros
  • Access critical conservation and outdoor newsmakers
  • Discover new outlets to sell your work 
  • Sharpen your professional skills at seminars and presentations
  • Check out the latest outdoor gear – and the stories behind them
  • Meet with editors and industry leaders
  • Get inspired and more!
For outdoor media, brands, destinations, service providers, conservation organizations and other outdoor professionals, it’s an event not to be missed!

Know a great speaker or workshop instructor? We’d love to hear about them (especially if they’re from underrepresented outdoor communities such as BIPOC peoples, persons with a disability, LGBTQ+ peoples, etc.)! Click on these links to learn more:

Interested in hosting a press tour for our members? Submit your proposal today at the link below!


Registration gives you access to:
  • All keynote and breakout sessions, including the always popular ‘Meet the Editors’ panel
  • Three meals/day (nine total), including the honorary awards banquet and even more compelling speakers
  • Two 3-hour ‘deep dive’ workshops to further your skillset
  • All breakout day activities (gear demos and more)
  • Hospitality events (which generally include adult beverages and light snacks/appetizers)
  • Unique events like the fun run, photo scavenger hunt, membership meeting, and storytelling night
  • Optional pre- and post-tour options
Cancellations are now covered:
Registration Insurance is now included in all registration fees, with coverage underwritten by Lloyds of London. Attendees receive a 100% refund, if they are unable to attend the event for a reason outside of their control (and because of a reason that is covered under the policy). This coverage starts on the date someone registers and ends on the first day of the show. Click here to see the claims website and then click on the tab ‘Policy Terms & Conditions’ to see what is covered.
Note too that traveling and attending events with a large number of attendees places individuals at risk (such as pandemics). Attendees who participate in person will be participating at their own risk. 


Getting There

If you’re flying in, the main airports are Mobile (MOB) and Pensacola (PNS). PNS is 45 minutes to one hour away while MOB is an hour and a half drive.
From Pensacola you’ve got three routes to make it to the destination: I-10, US 98 or the scenic beach route (FL 292 to AL 182). There is a shuttle service.  From Mobile you’ve got the I-10 Bridge or the US98 Causeway. Both require tunnel crossing, which raises the possibility (albeit slim) that if there’s an accident you could be stuck for sometime. 
Those looking for a major airport can fly into Atlanta, and take the 4.5-hour trek down I-85 to I-65. New Orleans is just over three hours away. 
For more detailed information, check out Gulf Shore’s ‘Getting Here’ page


  • The event takes place at The Lodge at Gulf State Park and attendees can reserve rooms between Sept. 5-13 at $164/night (Guests wishing to check availability to extend their stay should edit travel dates at the top of the landing page, then click the UPDATE icon. If the requested dates are not available at the group rate, reach out to Central Reservations at 1-800-618-4350 and mention group code OWA for assistance.) The cut-off date for these discounted room rates is Tuesday, August 15, 2023. Also, the Lodge offers self-parking at $5.00 per night.
  • There are also three-bedroom cabins available in the park (a short bike ride away)
  • A campground is also located nearby (also in the park and also a short bike ride away)
View down a secluded boardwalk across a wetland in Gulf Shores, Alabamba

About the Destination

2023 marks the first time OWAA is taking an adventure to Sweet Home Alabama! The coastal towns of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, located on the northern Gulf of Mexico, may be known for their 32 miles of sugar-white sand beaches, but as OWAA members will quickly discover, the beach is truly just the beginning. Conference attendees will stay at the Lodge at Gulf State Park, a Hilton hotel, acclaimed as an international benchmark in sustainable tourism development that sits on the beach in the 6,150-acre Gulf State Park. In the park itself, explore the nine different ecosystems accessible by the 28-mile Hugh Branyon Backcountry Trail (be sure to look for Lefty, the resident alligator, as well as bald eagles, bobcats, gopher tortoise, coyotes, white-tailed deer and more). Birders will “flock” to the Alabama Coastal Birding Trails – including the 7,000-acre Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge – as the area is on the migration flyway for more than 300 species of birds as well as monarch butterflies. Add in a “boat load” of water activities – kayaking, standup paddle boarding, deep sea fishing, inshore fishing, pier fishing and more – and you can see why OWAA will be singing along with “Sweet Home Alabama.” The hosts, Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism, are eager to showcase their sustainability efforts to OWAA members. From “Leave Only Footprints” to keep their beaches clean and protect nesting sea turtles and shore birds, to the Gulf Coast Center for Ecotourism & Sustainability offering Jean Michel Cousteau’s “Ambassadors of the Environment” programs, to oyster farming and restaurant oyster shell recycling efforts, OWAA members will find endless stories to tell! The tourism office will also be working with the Alabama Tourism Department and other destinations across the state to curate stellar pre/post trips for media attendees.

The Lodge

Unlike regular beach hotels cluttered together along the coast, The Lodge at Gulf State Park, A Hilton Hotel is a unique destination, one with nature at its doorstep. Located within the beautiful 6,150-acre Gulf State Park, The Lodge at Gulf State Park provides modern and comfortable accommodations with direct beach access, four dining options, 40,000 square feet of flexible event space, and miles of beach trails with the pristine coastal scenery of this natural wildlife habitat. During your stay, you’ll connect with the outdoors on a whole new level. And in doing so, you’ll be helping in the hotel’s conservation efforts to restore and maintain the beauty of this truly distinctive property.
Each of the 350 non-smoking guest rooms, including 20 suites, weave comfort and sustainability with a contemporary flair. All rooms bring the outdoors in by providing guests views of either The Gulf of Mexico or Lake Shelby/Gulf State Park. More than 100 of the rooms offer king beds with two bunkbeds, while nine other rooms have two sets of bunkbeds. 
The hotel rate for the conference will be $164/night and that rate is available from Sept. 5 to Sept. 12. 
There are also three-bedroom cabins to rent in the state park as well as a campground, which is a quick bike ride away from the lodge. 

Proud OWAA Conference Partner

Major Sponsor

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