103-Year-Old Becomes Junior Ranger for Grand Canyon National Park

Rose Torphy holds up her junior ranger certificate for the camera. Courtesy Cheryl Stoneburner

Grand Canyon National Park marks its 100th anniversary this month, but one of its junior rangers is older than the park itself.

On a recent visit, Rose Torphy was inducted as a junior ranger at the age of 103.

Torphy went to the Grand Canyon with her daughter Cheryl Stoneburner in mid-January, during the partial federal government shutdown. The park store was open, so Torphy headed in.

"I started talking to people about the junior ranger program because it teaches kids to protect the canyon," she tells "Good Morning America." "My parents taught me to care for the land, but not all kids have that."

This wasn't Torphy's first visit to the park. She also came to the Grand Canyon in 1985, when she says she "was able to walk around." This time, she got to "go to the edge" of the iconic canyon in her wheelchair.

"I was very impressed with the wheelchair access and ramps," Stoneburner says. "We were able to get to an edge where she had taken a photo with my dad on their visit in 1985."

The junior ranger program — whose motto is "Explore, learn and protect!" — helps the young and the young at heart learn about the park they're visiting, and how conservation efforts can help their own homes. Prospective rangers complete an activity book and receive a badge that indicates their status as junior rangers.

At the Grand Canyon, the junior ranger program is funded by the Grand Canyon Conservancy, a nonprofit partner with the national park. Since park employees were furloughed during the shutdown, an employee of the conservancy swore in Torphy.

"I'm happy to protect it for my great-grandchildren to visit one day," Torphy says.

Torphy is the mother of three children, grandmother of nine, great-grandmother of 18 and great-great-grandmother of 10.

According to Stoneburner, Torphy still hasn't taken the South Rim Junior Ranger pin off her coat.

"She's a spokesperson for the park now," Stoneburner says. "Everywhere we go, people ask her about her junior ranger pin and she says, 'You're never too old to see the Grand Canyon!'"