Todd and Jeannette Sample woke up before dawn to register their three daughters for spots in a youth cross-country ski program that ended up selling out within hours.

On a sun-soaked Friday morning, the Minneapolis family arrived at Afton Alps ski resort to pick up their season passes and buckle into their downhill skis for a few runs.

“We always cross-country ski, but we decided because of COVID we are going to do both,” Todd Sample said. Their daughters, Greta, 11, Nora, 9, and Eva, 7, have been cooped up at home doing online school, which the girls sum up in one word: “Boring.”

Ski hills, cross-country ski facilities and city parks across Minnesota are bracing for a rush of winter visitors as virus-weary residents turn to the outdoors to find wintertime relief. Many locations are already open, albeit with man-made snow.

“Minnesotans are longing for outdoor adventures this