Get to Know: Johnston 

The headquarters for Pioneer Hi-Bred International, a major distributor of agricultural products, and Iowa PBS, the state of Iowa’s public broadcasting network that brings local sports tournaments, political commentary and more to Iowa devices, are two major employers located in Johnston. The community is also home to the Iowa National Guard, Camp Dodge and Iowa Gold Star Military Museum. Currently, Johnston Town Center is under development and will include new public spaces in “The Yard” to hold community events and features a synthetic outdoor ice rink as well as surrounding retail and commercial space. Terra Park offers an amphitheater, community center, playground and fishing pier, and Beaver Creek is an access point for the Iowa Confluence Water Trails (ICON) regional project which will bring further connectivity to Greater Des Moines' (DSM’s) rivers and creeks. Trostel’s Greenbriar or Pagliai’s Pizza are among the local restaurants available in the area, to name-drop just a few. 

image of Johnston's town sign

Johnston at a Glance

  • Population: 24,195 (2021, U.S. Census Bureau) 
  • Location within Greater Des Moines: West 
  • Distance from Des Moines: 10.5 miles 
  • Type of Community: Suburb 
  • School District: Johnston Community School District 
  • County: Polk 

Johnston in one sentence: A dynamic city, Johnston boasts 45+ miles of trails, 12 city parks and an annual celebration called Johnston Green Days. 

The top five best things about Johnston: The Johnston community is known for its school district, business growth and trails. The anticipation and support for the development of Johnston Town Center perfectly showcases how the community rallies around big projects, while, most recently, the city’s use of solar modules and high-efficiency fixtures on the Johnston City Hall project displays the community’s commitment to sustainability. 

Hidden gems and unexpected finds in Johnston: Terra Park is 200 acres of space featuring a playground, fishing, trails and more. Recreation enthusiasts will also enjoy the Beaver Creek Access Point, part of the ICON Water Trails, which offers kayak rentals near 86th Street and 70th Avenue. 

Community traditions and annual events: The Kites on the Green Festival takes place in May and includes food trucks, live music and, of course, colorful kites. Throughout the summer the Johnston Farmers’ Market takes place, making it easy for residents to buy fresh, local produce. And every summer, Johnston Green Days provides the community with an annual festival with a carnival, live music, nature walk and fireworks. 

Best ways to get connected: Connect with others in the community by volunteering, attending a new business ribbon cutting or stopping by a Johnston event.   

Big things on the horizon for Johnston: Updates continue to Johnston Town Center, while Ignit Sports Complex opens later this year along Merle Hay Road. 

If you’re coming to check out the community, be sure to spend your day ... Start the day off with a coffee from Twisted Bean Coffee Company or breakfast at Cozy Café. Swing by Terra Park if the weather’s nice or visit Iowa Gold Star Military Museum to see exhibits of the Iowa State Patrol, Operation Iraqi Freedom and the Col. Al Rolfes Education Center. Finally, seek out local bites from Trostel’s Greenbriar and Pagliai’s Pizza for dinner.  

Some of the ways Johnston advances diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI): The Iowa National Guard’s Diversity and Inclusion Office promotes a cultural climate for soldiers, airmen and employees, and the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs office is located in Johnston. The city is a Home Base Iowa community, helping to connect veterans with businesses in DSM.