The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is preparing for another very busy holiday at Beltzville State Park in Carbon County.

"Our crowds exceed the capacity of our parking lots on the Fourth of July, and if we have nice weather we are expecting a similar situation this year," said Park Manager Kevin Koflanovich. "Our first concern is that our visitors are safe."

Koflanovich reminded visitors that parking is not permitted on Pohopoco Drive, the road that leads to the main entrance of the 3,002-acre park located in the southern foothills of the Poconos.

Illegally parked vehicles could make it difficult for emergency vehicles to reach the area.

Cars that are parked illegally along Pohopoco Drive are subject to being towed at the owner's expense.

"Many residents of the Lehigh Valley and Hazelton areas travel to enjoy the picnicking, swimming, boating and hiking available at the park and we are happy to welcome them," Koflanovich said. "When visitors park along the road, however, it creates an unsafe mix of vehicles and pedestrians."

Beltzville's parking lot has 904 spots, plus the capacity to park an additional 400 cars in an adjacent field if conditions allow. Gates to the parking area open at 8 a.m., and on busy holidays the lots can quickly reach capacity. The gates are closed when that occurs.

Koflanovich said if visitors are turned away, additional opportunities for outdoor fun and swimming beaches are available at Hickory Run State Park, also in Carbon County, and Tuscarora State Park in Schuylkill County.

For more information about Pennsylvania's 120 state parks, visit the DCNR website at www.dcnr.state.pa.us.