Its source is Lake Ilinalta, close to Riverwood. At first it flows smoothly in a relatively narrow channel, but close to the Guardian Stones, it passes over a series of rapids and waterfalls just before Embershard Mine. It then smooths out again and passes through Riverwood. The Throat of the World rises high over the river here.
Shortly after passing Riverwood it enters a long series of waterfalls and rapids before reaching the Whiterun plains. It receives a significant boost in its flow as the small streams from the town join the river. It then runs to the east in a series of curves and bends.
After that it flows mostly in a narrow bed, turning to the north to Windhelm, and then terminating in the Sea of Ghosts, near Dunmeth Pass. The two main tributaries of the White River are the Darkwater River and Yorgrim River.