The Missouri River enters the state from the west near Buford, Ft. Buford State Historic Site and Ft. Union Trading Post Nat. Hist. Site and winds in an easterly direction until reaching Garrison Dam near Pick City and Riverdale, about 160 miles downstream.
The river then turns to the south-southeast flowing into South Dakota about mid-state.
The dam is the fifth largest earthen dam in the U.S. and creates Lake Sakakawea, the nation's third largest man-made reservoir at 178 miles long and covering 368,000 acres. In addition, Oahe Dam near Pierre, SD, creates Lake Oahe on the river's last 60 miles in North Dakota.
Major cities along the river's length include Williston in Williams County, Mandan in Morton County and Bismarck, the state capital, in Burleigh County.