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When visiting Yosemite National Park, most choose to stay in nearby counties. When a few friends and I went, we ended up staying in Mariposa, Calif., about an hour drive from the park. Mariposa is quaint with its small-town amenities. For example, the local diner, Happy Burger Diner, claims to have the "largest menu in the Sierras," and the town's museum fits in just one small building.
All of the charm grew thin, however, when the outside temperature hovered around 90 degrees (despite it being the middle of March, when temperatures are typically much lower). We asked a local where we should cool off, and she pointed us toward Lake McSwain and Lake McClure __ the two are conveniently located right next to each other. After a quick drive, we ended up at Lake McSwain, since Lake McClure was closed during off-seasons (late winter and early spring).
Lake McSwain is amazingly blue and surrounded by picturesque views of farmlands. In fact, as we swam, we found ourselves being watched by a herd of curious cows. Other than their mooing, Lake McSwain felt blissfully quiet and was just the respite we needed after a morning of hiking around Yosemite.