The river is remote and not accessible by road. Only a few isolated communities are along the river: Wunnumin Lake First Nation (on same lake), Webequie (on Winisk Lake) and Peawanuck, about 30 kilometres (19 mi) from its end). It is characterized by strong currents and whitewater while flowing off the Canadian Shield into the Hudson Bay lowlands. Here the river becomes broad.
For most of the length of the Winisk River and its banks, from Winisk Lake to the Polar Bear Provincial Park, has been designated a provincial waterway park. It is a non-operating park, meaning no fees are charged and no visitor facilities or services are present. Visitors must be experienced in travelling through isolated wilderness and skilled in handling whitewater.