AUBURN (CBS13) – Prehistoric fossils, incredible rock formations, even an underground lake – it’ll all be part of a cave tour that could open in Placer County next summer.

The cave has never been open to the public, but CBS13’s Ben Sosenko was one of the first to take the tour on Tuesday.

If you’ve ever read the book “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” this is it would feel like, but the most amazing thing about this space beyond all the history is that it sits right in the Auburn State Recreation Area.

“It’s a gem that’s sitting out here that nobody knows is down here,” said Gene Lorance, Hawver Cave’s project manager.

Just a short drive from the Foresthill Bridge in Auburn, there’s an old mining quarry blasted into a cave.

“It’s a really big place to have fun and explore, and that’s hard to find,” Lorance said.

The mine closed during World War II, and for years teenagers used the space as a party spot. That ended in 2006 when a gate was installed. Now, for the first time, the Auburn State Recreation Area is hoping to open the Hawver Cave to the public.

“We’re expecting that we’ll have a lot, a lot of interest,” a park official said.

Back in 1900, Dr. John Hawver found the cave. Inside he found prehistoric fossils. They’ll be on display during the proposed tour, along with a look at stone formations that date back 1 million years and a 500-foot-long, 80-foot-deep underground lake.

“The geology in here is really cool because you can see the fragment fault lines and actually touch it,” Lorance said.

There are still challenges before it opens. The cave needs to pass air quality and other safety tests before it can open. But if it does, the possibilities could even extend beyond a simple tour.

“If we ever get it open, it could be a setting for that unique wedding,” a park official said.

A woolly mammoth was in this cave 10,000 years ago. If all goes well, by next summer the public may walk this space too.