HomeOutdoorsNewsGrandma Joy becomes oldest person to visit all 63 National Parks

Grandma Joy becomes oldest person to visit all 63 National Parks

by Jon D. B.
Grandma Joy Ryan National Parks
Grandmother Joy Ryan has become the oldest person to visit all 63 U.S. National Parks, doing so with her grandson, Brad. (Photo credit: Outsider, Brad Ryan, Robert Alexander/Getty Images)

Brad Ryan and his 93-year-old grandmother, Joy, began their journey to visit all U.S. National Parks seven years ago. And they’ve done it.

The pair, a couple of true Outsiders, keep social media adrift of their explorations on the their epic adventures on their @grandmajoysroadtrip Instagram. They’ve done so since 2019, but their journey began back in 2015.

That year, Joy and Brad took to the Tennessee side of Great Smokey Mountains National Park (the best place to begin, in this local’s opinion). The trip did wonders for their relationship, Brad says, and they’ve been traveling the U.S. ever since. And with their visit to the National Park of American Samoa in the South Pacific this past Monday, May 15, the grandmother and grandson have now visited every National Park Service (NPS) national park.

“It’s really been a beautiful, beautiful time. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” Grandma Joy told Good Morning America of the experience.

At 93, Joy becomes the oldest person in history to do so, and her smile says it all. For their last excursion, the duo left their small hometown of Duncan Falls, Ohio, at 3:00 am on Saturday, May 13.

“”We took a two day break in Oahu before boarding our final flight to Pago Pago, American Samoa, on Monday,” Brad tells GMA of their final “bittersweet” trip. “Three flights and nearly seventeen flying hours were required before we touched down in American Samoa on Monday evening.”

‘Reaching our 63rd and final U.S. National Park is bittersweet, with an emphasis on the ‘sweet’

“Reaching our 63rd and final U.S. National Park is bittersweet, with an emphasis on the ‘sweet.’ Standing at the finish line in American Samoa affirms that seemingly impossible goals are in fact possible if you pursue them with passion and pure intention,” Brad adds.

In his celebratory post (above), Brad offers the perfect words to sum up this most epic of American adventures with his “Grandma Joy.”

“Grandma Joy made history today as the oldest living person to visit every U.S. National Park! What more can I say? It was the greatest privilege of my life to be in the driver’s seat for Grandma Joy’s Road Trip,” the proud grandson begins.

“We defied erroneous assumptions about the limitations of aging. We defied financial and logistical constraints. We even defied a pandemic. And you might have noticed that I accidentally made Grandma Joy the superstar I always knew her to be,” he lauds.

“We have so much to share with you from the National Park of American Samoa. But today we are soaking up every ounce of joy coming our way from around the world. Your love and support was the fuel that got us to the finish line. We love you all.”

And thankfully, this is far from the end of their adventures together.

What’s next for the Ryans?

The duo plan to spend 10 days in American Samoa soaking in the incredible sights. They’ve already watched flying foxes, or giant fruit bats, immense cliffsides, and some of the most gorgeous ocean shores on our planet. But with this being their last of the 63 national parks, what’s next?

The Ryans plan on staying in American Samoa for 10 days, but as their national park adventure comes to a close, their expeditions won’t end.

“Now that we have visited every U.S. National Park, we have our eyes set on the world, hopefully reaching all seven continents,” Brad Ryan reveals for GMA. Incredibly, the pair are headed to Kenya for a National Geographic expedition in July.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see Grandma Joy flying through space or walking on the moon. This is what 93 should look like if we’re lucky enough to live as long as she has,” he decrees.

Well said, young man. And congratulations to you both!

For more on the 63 U.S. National Parks, and the other 300+ NPS sites, see our How Many U.S. National Parks Are There? Hint: Way More Than 63 next.