OHIO — Very few people ever make it to every single United States National Park in their lifetime. For Joy Ryan, it took her 93 years, but she made history by becoming the oldest person to visit every single one. 

What You Need To Know

  • Grandma Joy, a Zanesville resident, became the oldest person to visit all 63 national parks

  • She did it alongside her grandson, Brad Ryan

  • Her goal has been to show people at any age that they can accomplish their dreams

  • Now that she's done with the national parks, she is trying to see all seven summits 

She is better known as Grandma Joy and her story has gone viral and she has become a social media star by visiting every national park in eight years. Now that she’s finished, she’s excited about the history she made.

“I lived long enough to survive it,” she said.

She did not take on this journey alone. She was joined by her grandson, Brad Ryan, but they haven’t always been this close.

“We had a very close relationship when I was a child. As I entered my 20s and my parents got divorced, I basically became estranged from my entire paternal side of the family, including Grandma Joy. So, it took a few years, but the more time that you have, the older you get, you realize that you don’t have endless amounts of time at your disposable and I felt that I needed to make an effort to reconnect with her,” he said.

He explained what happened after they reconnected.

"I just thought she had a lot of life left to live, so I invited her to one road trip to the Great Smoky Mountains and she climbed a mountain with me and the rest is history,” he said.

Grandma Joy’s Instagram account @grandmajoysroadtrip has more than 80,000 followers and many more have followed her journey. She has become an inspiration to people by showing them they can do what they want at any age.

“We wanted to wake up the older folks and tell them no, it’s not too old. If you feel like doing something, you need to do it. Just because your family tells you ‘you’re too old,’ just ignore them and do it anyway,” she said. 

Ryan said that they both have more life to live and that’s why they have already planned their next trip.

“Life is still happening for both of us. So, now we have our eyes set on the seven summits, the seven tallest peaks, one on each of the continents and yeah, we’re heading to Africa. We’re going to Kenya in July and she’s going to be able to see Mt. Kilimanjaro, the tallest peak in Africa,” he said.

As their journey has pushed on, they continue to lean on each other throughout their adventures.