Not all public parks are either state or national parks. In fact, some of the nicest parks I have found are regional parks, such as Lake Pleasant and Usery Mountain parks near Phoenix, which are part of the Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department. In fact, a couple of weeks ago, I stayed one night in a jewel of a Riverside County park: Rancho Jurupa Park, very close to the city of Riverside, California. It has a new campground with full hookups and large cement pads, and lots of things for kids to do. I will be going back there and the two regional parks in Arizona in 2014 because they were so nice. In spite of being near cities, all were quiet and rural feeling.
Most California state parks are expensive and have no hookups at all, not even electric. The attitude of the state seems to focus on rustic campgrounds near scenic areas. Anyway, when I look for campgrounds on my route, I am careful to also look for regional parks. (A commercial campground is my last-resort because they tend to be expensive, dirty, and cramped.)
I spent the last four night here at Mohave Narrows Regional Park, near Victorville, CA. It was halfway between the Salton Sea and Death Valley and not too far away from Joshua Tree National Park. It was a little more run-down than some of the regional parks, but it had asphalt pads, good roads, and full hookups for a reasonable price. I also knew that being near a good-sized city, it would have good cell service and lots of chain stores for some needed shopping. Here is the approach to this park. You can see the small lake and day-use area:
There was one other family the first two nights, but then I had the place entirely to myself the last two nights. This does not bother me because the gates are locked after 4:30 pm so no one can get in. In addition, there are rangers that patrol a lot during the day. Here is how empty the place was:
I received and faxed some stuff to my bank at a local UPS store, refilled a prescription, picked up some stuff from a Home Depot, got gas, and did some grocery shopping while I was there. The rest of the time, I got some work done. I also was entertained by the constant and heavy train traffic going past on a triple track just 500' from my campsite. Luckily, the sounds of trains does not keep me from sleeping.