Depending on the time of year, the only problems I've had with that type of camping has been dry creek beds (no water source) and hunters.
One of my favorite spots to camp is in the Buffalo River National Park. Go 5 miles west of Jasper, AR on Hwy 74 to Camp Orr Rd (the Boy Scout Camp) on the right. Head downhill towards the river and take the left split towards Kyle's Landing (don't go to Camp Orr). The road dead ends at the river so you can't get lost.
Hike upstream along the Buffalo River Trail as long as it's flat and near the river (on Google maps it looked to be about 800 meters). When you hit your first big uphill where the trail wants to veer away from the river, there's a beautiful camp site under a cliff with a fire ring off to the right in the direction of the river. There's hardwood trees, sandy ground, and bamboo on a 50 meter hike to the river.
The thing that this site has that several other ones I've been to don't is:
1. A guaranteed water source.
2. No hunters in the national park.
3. A really nice view.
4. An easy hike.
I've hiked in this area a lot and I don't think I've ever slept in a tent. We've always slept directly on the ground, snow, or a flat ledge. In this photo of the camp site I took while sitting on the cliff, you can see Pat's sleeping bag in the upper left and mine in the upper right. The river is to the left. The trail is to my right.
13 miles west of Jasper, AR on Hwy 74 is Steel Creek campground. 14.5 miles out you hit the intersection of Hwy 74 & Hwy 43 near Ponca, AR. The Buffalo River Trail between the bridge at Ponca and Steel Creek follows the river and has a lot of places to setup a camp site off the trail.
Here's a picture of one of our camp sites about a mile downstream from the Ponca bridge. If you ever sleep close to a stream in Arkansas, be aware that people die in flash floods here. Choose your spot wisely based on weather conditions.
Bunny, you are coming to the right place for what you want to do. Two million acres, two national forests, a huge national wildlife refuge. America's first and still best national river. All allow no cost secluded camping.
If you are here in February, Kyles landing will be closed. It will reopen in March. Steel Creek is open now with no water and no fee. In March water will be turned on and fees will apply.
If you take the Buffalo River Trail from Steel Creek Campground going east, it is a short hike to Steel Creek. There are some nice camp sites there. Primitive, no facilities. Just a place to put your tent. Similar to Darryl's photos. Continue up the trail and you come to a breathtaking overlook. BTW, volunteer trail crews spent most of October cleaning up the trails in this area so it should be clear sailing unless a tree falls before you arrive. Trees falling is always an issue in a forest.
An added bonus is that you stand a good chance of seeing Elk in the Boxley Valley or maybe even at Steel Creek.
Darryl, thanks for the photos and great info. Bunny
Rainbow Drive Resort has camper cabins, tent sites, and RV camping all on the gorgeous White River. Clean restroom/shower facilities. You can throw a rock into the river from your bed/sleeping bag.
They also have a private island for primitive camping and survivalist enthusiasts. :) http://www.rainbowdriveresort.com/index.asp
The White is another Arkansas Jewel. At one time I thought it would be neat to start as high up as possible in the Boston Mtns and float to the Mississippi. A little over 700 miles. Starts in the Ozarks and ends up in the White River National Refuge while going through Beaver, Table Rock, Taneycomo, and Bull Shoals lakes. A lot of transition from start to finish.
I am a Boy Scouter and Quapaw Area Council will be offering the 50 miler patch this summer. I was looking at a good put in and take out. Looked at Cotter but settled on Ranchette as the put in which is 10 river miles below Cotter.