(FOX 9) - COVID-19 has forced 2020 to become the year of the outdoors as many Minnesotans form a new relationship with nature.
"This last snow storm has really sparked that need to get outside and enjoy winter," Ray Aponte from the Loppet Foundation at Theodore Wirth Park in Minneapolis said.
The park was busy on Monday with people skiing, snowshoeing, sledding and enjoying the fresh snow.
"It’s a great way to get out and do some exercise during COVID times and stay COVID safe," Aponte said.
Many people are trying outdoor winter sports for the first time because other, indoor options for entertainment and exercise are closed.
"The gym’s closed and the pandemic and everything...[we're] looking for something to do outside," first-time snowshoer Liz Lorge said.
More first-timers means outdoor winter activity gear has been flying off the shelves at stores like Midwest Mountaineering in Minneapolis.
"We were getting calls for snow shoes back in end of September into the first part of October, and we can’t keep them in stock," said Stephen Schreader from Midwest Mountaineering in Minneapolis.
He said outdoor gear has been popular all year and he’s hoping the trend continues - and people stay connected with nature for years to come.
"I look forward four to five years when hopefully this pandemic is over with and done, I still think you’re going to see people kayaking, skiing, snowshoeing," Schreader said.
The New York Times also published an article about the popularity of snowshoeing nationwide in 2020.