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The Daxia River starts in eastern Huangnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai, then flows easterly through northern Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture where its drainage basin covers large parts of Hezuo County-level City and Xiahe County. It then flows northeast into Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture, where it is crosses the breadth of Linxia County, and Linxia City. Its lower course forms the border between Linxia County and the neighbouring Dongxiang Autonomous County to the east. The river forms a large bay at its mouth in the Liujiaxia Reservoir.
Within Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture, the wide valley of Daxia River, flanked on both sides by loess plateaus, is a major agricultural and residential area. Both Hanji Town (the county seat of Linxia County) and Linxia City are located in this valley.
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