93-Year-Old Grandmother Finishes Visiting All 63 U.S. National Parks With Her Grandson

From the deserts of Southern California to the lush forests of Alaska, the U.S. possesses an incredible diversity of nature. For most of her life, Joy Ryan never saw the landscape beyond her home state of Ohio. Then, when she was in her mid-eighties, her grandson Brad Ryan decided to take her on a journey to all of the U.S. National Parks—a mission that ultimately took eight years to complete. At the age of 93, Grandma Joy has finally seen all 63 parks, ending the monumental feat in the National Park of American Samoa.

“When I learned she had never seen the great wildernesses of America—deserts, mountains, oceans, you name it—I thought that was something that would haunt me if I didn't intervene in some way,” Brad says. This idea sparked their first trip to the Great Smoky Mountains. However, once they were on the road, Brad realized that they could visit more parks that were nearby, and their trips multiplied from there. Over the years, they managed to see all of the famous sights at Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, the Redwoods, and so on. But Brad relishes the time spent with his grandmother just as much as the stunning places they were able to visit.

Despite Grandma Joy's older age, she was able to hike mountains and do white water rafting. Brad compliments her zeal for life as the key to her good health. She expresses gratitude for each new day and is always excited for the next adventure. Finally, their long journey across the U.S. came to an end with American Samoa. “It's about 6,700 miles from Ohio, where we live. It's the only U.S. National Park that's south of the equator. Way out in the South Pacific. It's a long haul, but we're excited to go,” Brad explains. “We can enjoy the beach, we can enjoy the beautiful tropical paradise. But as we've come to learn from the rangers that work there, American Samoa is an island community that is very firmly rooted in family. And I think that there's a bit of a poetic beauty to ending it there as well.”

The pair shared a photo of them posing in front of the 63rd sign and they were all smiles at the accomplishment. Grandma Joy was even given a certificate by the park rangers which stated she has visited all of the U.S. National Parks. “I thank the Lord every morning for giving me another day,” Grandma Joy shares. “And it's your choice whether you're going to have a grumpy day or a sunny day. So, smile at everybody, and let everybody know you're having a whale of a time.” While her tour of the U.S. has come to a close, she and her grandson are not done traveling. Next up, they have their sights set on Kenya.

Keep up with Grandma Joy's travels by following her on Instagram.

Grandma Joy Ryan has finished seeing all 63 U.S. National Parks with her grandson Brad Ryan.

She began the adventure at the age of 85, after her grandson Brad Ryan learned she had not seen the ocean or mountains.

Over the course of eight years, the pair traveled together across the U.S. to see the numerous National Parks.

From Yosemite to Yellowstone to the Grand Canyon, they covered every corner of the American landscape.

Grandma Joy made the most of these trips by hiking and even participating in white water rafting.

Brad also got to enjoy one-on-one time with his grandmother, deepening their relationship.

The duo finally ended their road trip in the National Park of American Samoa.

Brad Ryan and Grandma Joy: Instagram | Facebook
h/t: [CBS News]

All images via Brad Ryan and Grandma Joy Ryan.

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Margherita Cole

Margherita Cole is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and illustrator based in Southern California. She holds a BA in Art History with a minor in Studio Art from Wofford College, and an MA in Illustration: Authorial Practice from Falmouth University in the UK. She wrote and illustrated an instructional art book about how to draw cartoons titled 'Cartooning Made Easy: Circle, Triangle, Square' that was published by Walter Foster in 2022.
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