This 93-year-old Grandmother Visited all 63 National Parks in the U.S. With Her Grandson — See Their Journey

Melanie Haiken

93 yrs old Grandpa Joy and her grandson Brad

Brad Ryan and his 93-year-old grandmother, Joy Ryan, achieved their remarkable goal of visiting all 63 U.S. national parks. However, their journey doesn’t end there.

Brad Ryan and his grandmother Joy Ryan have been on a journey to visit every national park. On Monday, they arrived in American Samoa to visit their 63rd and final park, the National Park of American Samoa. Courtesy of Brad Ryan

The duo, who completed their multi-year adventure earlier this month with a visit to the National Park of American Samoa, now aims to explore all seven continents, Brad shared with Travel + Leisure.

“It deeply affected me when [Joy] mentioned she had never seen a mountain or an ocean at the age of 80,” Brad explained to me. “She’s energetic and full of life. She wanted to experience nature, though she never imagined traveling overseas… We’re embarking on a new phase of international Joy.”

From left: Their first road trip taken to a fishing camp when Brad was 2.5-years-old in Ohio in 1983; Brad and Grandma Joy at the Gates of the Arctic National Park in Alaska.
Grandma Joy on the road to Hana en route to Haleakala National Park in Maui, Hawaii. BRAD RYAN

Their journey began in 2015 with a visit to Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. To reach their final park, they first flew to Hawaii for a brief stay before continuing to Pago Pago in American Samoa.

Grandpa Joy and her grandson Brad

After reaching this incredible milestone, they were honored with certificates and a commemorative quarter celebrating the national park in American Samoa.

“This feels just like Christmas,” Joy Ryan expressed in a video on an Instagram account, @grandmajoysroadtrip, which chronicles their travels.

With all 63 national parks behind them, they now set their sights further. Joy Ryan, affectionately known as grandma Joy, recently obtained her first passport at the age of 92.

Brad Ryan said at 93, his grandmother Joy Ryan has become the oldest person to travel to all 63 national parks. Courtesy of Brad Ryan

“Everyone we meet is always so friendly and eager to show you things money can’t buy,” Joy shared with me about her adventures. “It’s wonderful. It gives me stories to share later on.”

Brad Ryan noted that traveling with his grandmother has taught him the value of slowing down.

“We rarely make plans anymore,” Ryan said. “We typically just arrive at a place and open ourselves to any possibilities. We enjoy deliberately getting lost, and it always works out.”

“One of the benefits of traveling with someone from a different generation,” Ryan added, “is the opportunity to slow down and gain wisdom and perspective. Adopting grandma Joy’s style of travel will likely benefit me throughout life.”

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