Be prepared to have a backup plan if you're heading to Starved Rock State Park or Matthiessen State Park over the busy Fourth of July holiday weekend.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources Conservation police officers are warning visitors that both parks will close if they reach capacity.
“Starved Rock and Matthiessen State Parks are extremely busy on normal weekends, but crowds increase significantly during holiday weekends," Cpt. Laura Petreikis said Tuesday in a statement. "Visitors need to remember we will close the parks when they reach capacity, so they should have an alternate park in mind should the parks be at capacity when they arrive."
In addition, parking restrictions and no-parking zones will be enforced, and vehicles parked outside of designated areas will be towed.
To encourage social distancing and public heath directives, neither park will allow additional visitors to enter once parking lots reach capacity. According to police, visitors should not park on the sides of Illinois Routes 178 or 71, surrounding roads or in construction zones.
The busiest weekend times at the parks are between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., police said, which make them possible times for potential closures.
One of the west entrances to Starved Rock is currently closed due to construction, but the southern entrance on Illinois Route 71 and another entrance along Illinois Route 178 remain open.
For those looking for other nearby parks, Buffalo Rock State Park lies just across the Illinois River in Ottawa, while Illini State Park is 20 miles east of Starved Rock in Marseilles.
Shabonna Lake State Recreation Area is also located within 50 miles of the two popular parks.
Visitors to state parks are encouraged to bring hand sanitizer with them, along with face coverings for use in common areas or when social distancing can’t be observed on trails in the parks.