New business offers mix of guided tours and Airbnb

A new business in Pahrump is looking to grow, as it offers a blend of Airbnb and guided tours in the area.

Death Valley Desert Tours, which was started by Dee and Barbara Conton of Pahrump in January, provides private tours to Death Valley National Park, Tecopa Hot Springs Resort, China Ranch Date Farm and Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. The couple also offer accommodations for tourists in Pahrump and Beatty.

The tours typically include between one and three people, and can be customized depending on a customer’s request.

“We want to show people Death Valley in a safe way with a knowledgeable local person in an intimate atmosphere,” Barbara said.

Dee used to work for Pink Jeep Tours in Las Vegas but after Barbara took the job at Great Basin College in Pahrump, the couple decided to start their business.

Since the Contons got permits from the National Park Service and licenses to operate in Nye County, Death Valley Desert Tours is picking up and Dee said it’s getting great reviews on platforms such as TripAdvisor and Airbnb.

The tours cost $199 per person for eight or nine hours in Death Valley National Park and $99 for Tecopa Hot Springs Resort and Cold Beer Tour, China Ranch Date Farm and Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge.

“People love the Mojave Desert and Death Valley, there’s so much history there, and so many stories to tell about it,” Dee said.

For those who want to combine tours with accommodations, the Contons also offer Airbnb.

Airbnb, a San Francisco-based global platform that allows renters to list their accommodations for travelers from around the world, has taken off in Nevada. According to the Associated Press report in February, Silver State hosts netted a whopping $47 million with the majority of the business originating in Las Vegas.

“We were surprised when we started our Airbnb that there’s about a dozen or more here, various from single rooms to entire houses,” Barbara said.

With their renters coming from all over the world, Dee said they have a map at their office for travelers to pin where they are from.

“People come from all over the world here because it’s a springboard to Death Valley, but a lot of locals and Nevadans don’t realize that,” Barbara said.

Preparing for the heat is sometimes overlooked by tourists and Dee said they always carry water, ice packs and wet towels in their tour car.

“I think it helps to have a tour company that’s really savvy to that,” Barbara said.

But for the moment, Dee said they are concentrating more on the tour business. His goal is to get another vehicle and attract more clientele from Pahrump.

“There’s a lot of people that drive through here, and we like to say that we take the road less traveled,” Dee said.

To contact Death Valley Desert Tours, visit or call 702-506-2325.

Contact reporter Daria Sokolova at On Twitter: @dariasokolova77